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SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE: A Novel ~Nancy Star

Monday, January 9th, 2017

“An extraordinarily moving, beautifully written novel…I was riveted from the very first page.”  Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times best-selling author of ORPHAN TRAIN

SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE is a complex and funny read.  The characters in the Tangle Family just pull the reader right into the story and have a gripping hold as you laugh at their quirky thoughts and actions and as you are touched by their dysfunctions and fully actualized behaviors right to the sadness that they must not talk about or share.

The writing is extraordinary, the story line is perfectly linked and there are no dangling particles when you come to the last page.  I finished the last page and the acknowledgements, the interview with Star and went right back to the first page and read it again.  The story is wrapped around a song about a brother with SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE and the strangely dramatic mother who believes she is an actress. The second reading gave me a new opportunity to understand a narcissist’s ability to hold a family together, to love and be kind, while every third sentence is a lie or a fantasy.

Ginger is a worrier, a school nurse, a perfectionist, who teaches night school classes about Danger, and is the one in charge of protecting her siblings.   12-years-old

Mimi is the controller; quick and decisive.  Very high energy and gets the job done. 10–years-old

Charlie is the sports loving brother. 8-years-old

Callie is the innocent wanderer, who is gentle and loving; asking tough and strange questions of the people around her.  6-years-old

Sully, or Dad, is an entrepreneur for ‘seconds’ or damaged Toys.

Glory, mom, is a huge personality who really is unable to cook, and whose ideas and words permeate the household and the children’s lives.

You will not soon forget these children or these adults.

Julia, Ginger’s 17-year-old daughter, is thinking about leaving home, it is in the middle of teenage/mother stress that she learns that her mother does not know where her sister Callie is and that they have been estranged for a long period of time and that all three sisters had a brother, who died in an accident.  This discovery knocks the balancing act of silence right off its pedestal and the whole story begins to untangle.

TLC Book Tours sent me this amazing book for review.  SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE is a worthwhile read and some fine humor.

I invite you to read SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE – The Family Like No Other.

About the author:
Nancy Star Website
Nancy Star Facebook
Nancy Star Twitter

“Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web. Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.” (TLC)

Related:
The Eagle Tree
Whistling Women
The Moon Sisters

REMEMBER MY BEAUTIES: A Novel ~Lynne Hugo

Monday, July 25th, 2016

TLC Book Tours   sent me this e book for review. It was an advanced readers copy and as I have read another of Lynne Hugo’s books and I know they were well edited, I believe this copy needs some more editing; not the usual for this author who truly does her research and homework.  The story is good and interesting and the two awkward jumps in the story were disconcerting.

So many stories of drug and alcohol problems are centered on the middle class and educated families.  This story was center on a southern rural family on the lower edge of the middle class and rough around the edges. Their language skills were so poor they could not articulate or move their problems forward and they became stuck in a cycle of blame and negativity – a rather vicious barrier.  The middle child Jewel is their only asset and she is working herself to the bone trying to keep her house, get her child off drugs and into the future, keep her blind father and ill mother clean and cared for and work her own job.   Jewel is verbally abused by her family and is exhausted and not appreciated by her husband or his teenage children. Life is too much.  Her older alcoholic, druggie brother drifts home and Jewel goes on strike.

What keeps Jewel functioning and holding on is her horse and her father’s three horses.  She sneaks onto the property to care for her Beauties and exercise them. The several sections of the story that are the horses’ thoughts are quite wonderful. The horses are the key to reconciliation and to the family’s future.  There is hope and there is a possibility to teach new tricks and ideas, when Jewel takes her firm stand.

People don’t know what they don’t know.  They did not understand other options and truly needed the wisdom of teachers and counselors with a bigger worldview and an ability to problem-solve.  There appears to be many, many people like this in the southern regions of the USA, but also in the rural regions of many states.  If it were not for the horses and their love the cycle would not have been broken.  It was not a very wide rift, the family would need more tears in the fabric of their lives in order to fully communicate and see the need for more language skills to create a more solid future.  This story emphasizes the ways people are isolated, separated and forgotten in our society.  An interesting read overall and needs a good discussion to go with it.

About the author:

“Lynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriever” (TLC page)

Lynne Hugo Website
Lynne Hugo Facebook
Lynne Hugo Twitter

Related:
Liar
If You Leave Can I Come With You?
Memory Card Full

MY SWEET VIDALIA: A Novel ~Deborah Mantella

Monday, February 1st, 2016

With a character name like Vidalia, I knew I was reading a Southern novel and so I prepared for some fairly scary scenes and painful moments.   MY SWEET VIDALIA was the retelling of a classic Southern scenario of poverty; racism and ignorance with a few bright and optimistic characters that kept the book moving forward and offered some relief from the negative environment of the 1950s.

The writing was very good and the dialect was well captured.  I was glad that the book did not drag out into epic dimensions and Vidalia did find a redemptive quality in the end of the story to express and to prove herself to be compassionate and not so “dumb” as her background would lead you to believe.  Her capacity to grow and develop kept me reading all the way through.  Whew!  That was a relief.

I liked the story and felt the discomfort of being outside the events and not being able to cajole or persuade Vidalia to move on and let go of her trials.  How does one move someone out of such ignorance when they do not know any better?  In the beginning of the story, young Vidalia falls in love with a slimy fellow who plays on her naiveté, then marries her when she becomes pregnant and beats her growing baby out of her womb too early for survival.   Vidalia finds a way to keep her baby with her through the whole story and this “spirit child” becomes her support system.

On the cover of the book Susan Crawford, author of The Pocket Wife says
“ From its beautiful first words to its satisfying ending, MY SWEET VIDALIA is a unique, enchanting read.     Exquisite language, a cast of robust characters, and a solid and compelling plot keep readers captivated as Mantella straddles the thin line between poetry and prose, reality and either, fragility and strength.  With a deft and gentle hand, she navigates us through the travails of an impoverished young mother guided by her intrepid spirit child.”

I would place this story high up on the scale of good reads and a great weekend of escape reading, which took me back to my school days in the Deep South.  It was still a relief to leave these characters back in the 1950s and early 60s and find comfort in my more progressive environment of home.   I worked as a social worker in the South in the 70s and 80s and I am hard pressed to even think about returning for a visit.  I am sure my experiences prejudiced my reading of this story.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this well-written story for review.

From the cover:
“A transplant to the South, Deborah Mantella has lived and taught in various cities in the Northeast and the Midwest.  Now a resident of Georgia she lives outside Atlanta with her husband.  Mantella is a member of the Atlanta Writers Club, the Author’s Guild, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and illustrators.  This is her first novel.”

Deborah Mantella Website
Deborah Mantella Facebook

Related:
The Wonder of All Things
The Mapmaker’s Children
The Robot Scientist’s Daughter
Flight Behavior