Friday, July 21, 2017

Literary Friday: The Almost Sisters




Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  I read the most delightful book this week:  The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson.  I know it will definitely make my "Best of 2017" list (which usually only consists of three books).  It is laugh out loud funny and poignant at the same time.  You must place it on your To Be Read List immediately!


According to Goodreads:

With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality---the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy--an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.


My Review:

I love everything about this book.  I'll start with the setting:  Tallapoosa County, Alabama, near the shores of Lake Martin.  I read this book in Tallapoosa county (Dadeville, to be exact) on the shores of Lake Martin (we have a lake cabin there).  Leia spent all of her summers with her grandmother in the fictitious town of Birchville, so the residents of said town consider Leia one of their own; they show no compunction at alerting Leia to her grandmother's "Late Unpleasantness" (or breakdown) at the Baptist Church's annual fish fry.  This scene is one of the funniest in all of Southern fiction: I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.  Leia's phone starts blowing-up about her grandmother while she's at her stepsister Rachel's house during what was supposed to be her family's weekly Sunday lunch.   Rachel had canceled lunch due to a knock-down drag-out fight with her husband, but Leia missed Rachel's message about the cancellation. Take charge Rachel helps Leia make travel arrangements to Alabama, and she insists Leia take her thirteen year old daughter Lavender with her.

I absolutely love Leia's character.  She's a nerdy comic book artist (she's a DC Girl, but I won't hold that against her) with a thing for Batman.  I can't even begin to tell you how this book appeals to my inner nerd.  Plus the fact that Leia meets batman at a Comic-Con in Atlanta is a perfect plot point. Leia shares her predicament with Lavender before she has a chance to tell Rachel, and things truly start to get interesting.  (Thirteen-year-olds have mad social media skills.)

Although the book is laugh out loud funny, it also explores serious issues like racism (especially in the Deep South), dementia, and familial roles.  Sisterhood is also a major theme.  Women in the South can get things done, but pair two together working in tandem and they are practically invincible.  The Almost Sisters is truly more than just a fun story.  It will make you think about what role you play in your family, and, if you're Southern, it will challenge you to determine in which South you live:

"The South I'd been born into was all sweet tea and decency and Jesus, and it was a real, true place.  I had grown up inside it, because my family was there.  Wattie's family owned real estate there, too.  The Second South was always present, though, and in it decency was a thin, green cover over the rancid soil of our dark history.  They were both always present, both truly present in every square inch, in every space, in both Baptist churches, at both tables."

The Almost Sisters, page 222.


Disclosure:  I received an ARC of The Almost Sisters from the publisher William Morrow in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



4 comments:

  1. I read this last weekend, and I adored it! Of course, I love all Jackson's books, but this was by far the best. She has such a great ear for language and is such a keen observer of human nature.

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  2. I am ordering it from the library today!! :-) I am reading Vintage a Novel, by Susan Gloss. It takes place in Madison Wisconsin. So I can relate with much of the Wisconsin in the story, I like that.

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  3. With your review and then Ellen's comment I know I have to read this book. I think we can appreciate this type story since we are southern.
    Enjoyed your review. Have a wonderful weekend.
    Oh, are you going to the big sale in Mountain Brook tomorrow?

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