The author of Once We Were Sisters is convinced that her sister’s husband murdered her. He most definitely beat her, repeatedly and savagely, but it seems that, had he wanted to kill her, he would have had access to other methods than driving their car into a tree, without having to himself suffer serious injuries. No matter, the story is about her relationship with her sister, forged against complicated parenting from their mother, a dreadful if indulgent education, and poor husband choices for both of them. It’s a wonderful portrait of sisterly love. Somehow it left me rather cold, including the awful abuse, perhaps because many of the bad decisions are based on hanging on to the very comfortable family wealth.
Tag Archives: sisters
In Girl Waits with Gun, three sisters take on (unknowingly, at first) a rich business owner who hit their buggy, in the early 20th century. They will be on the receiving end of threats, arson attempts, and bullets, although helped by the local sheriff. It’s a delightful adventure full of period details, and that never takes itself too seriously, and meanwhile the story of the sisters unspools to neatly parallel the drama. Fun!
All My Puny Sorrows is the story of an overwhelmed woman, hilariously told despite the very sad subject matter. Her beloved sister, a gifted pianist with an apparently perfect life, wants to die. She is trying to keep her safe (but perhaps she should help her die, as is her wish), and meanwhile worries about how her teenage daughter is behaving thousands of miles away. Throughout the book are many memories of the women’s childhood, in a small Mennonite town in which their family did not quite fit but with lots of kindness and love within the family itself. I loved the sweetness and sadness beneath the humor.
Lucky Us is the story of two half-sisters trying to make a life with no help from their parents who are dead, gone, or pretty much uninvolved. The author manages to meld historical research and imagined letters between the sisters into a coherent narrative with many interesting characters, including the sisters of course, with their sometimes puzzling life choices, but also the remaining parent (who is portrayed not as a loser but as a flawed but congenial man), and assorted friends and hangers-on with their own backstories. For instance, their on-time employer could be portrayed solely as a nouveau riche with social anxieties for herself and her children, but she is also shown attending their father’s funeral, which does her social climbing no favors.
And while the sisters are not lucky at all, the story is not gloomy.
The Death of Bees feature two sisters whose ne’er-do-well parents die mysteriously and who decide to bury them in the backyard and carry on rather than go to foster care. Their lonely homosexual neighbor helps them and eventually discovers the truth but keeps their secret. Told in an amusing, detached manner by the three main characters, the story is funny and sad — but always too unlikely to immerse oneself into it.
The Silver Star is a novel that reprises many of the themes of The Glass Castle, the author’s memoir of her childhood with less than responsible parents. Here, two sisters are left to fend for themselves by their distracted mother and take themselves across the country back to their mother’s hometown, to live with their estranged uncle and discover what their mother left behind — including a reputation for wild behavior. The best part of the book is the sweet relationship between the two sisters. The atmosphere of the 1970s can be a tad cliched, as is the closeness of the small town where the girls come to live, but the tone is brave and likable.
Twin switching identities, check, arson, check, victims entombed in concrete, check, gold digger girlfriend, check, concussion victim who wakes up at the very perfect moment, check. Too many cliches and coincidences make Daddy’s Gone A Hunting wholly unbelievable and left me shaking her head and never able to fully enter the story, despite the usual skilled suspense the author creates. Skip this one.