The Almost Sisters Books review, special features and comparisons
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published: July 11th 2017 by William Morrow
Original Title: The Almost Sisters
ISBN: 006210571X (ISBN13: 9780062105714)
Edition Language: English
Setting: Alabama (United States)
Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2017)
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.
“I wanted to fall in love, marry a dork like me, make more dorks.”
“You go to bed, too, and don’t fret, hear me? Things feel hard now, but it will pass. Everything passes, and something new comes along to fill the space.’ As she spoke, her tone shifted. She wasn’t talking about me anymore. ‘You can’t go around holding the worst thing you ever did in your hand, staring at it. You gotta cook supper, put gas in the car.”
“I felt such a well of tenderness for this dear old body. Every piece of it proclaimed how tired it was, but it was lovely, too. Her history was written in it, in the stretch marks left by my father, in the surgery scar on her abdomen and the puckered burn scar on the inside of her left arm, in the simple toll of ninety years of fighting gravity.”
“The South was like that optical-illusion drawing of the duck that is at the same time a rabbit. I’d always see the duck first, his round eye cheery and his bill seeming to smile. But if I shifted my gaze, the duck’s bill morphed into flattened, worried ears. The cheery eye, reversed, held fear, and I could see only a solemn rabbit. The Souths were like that drawing. Both existed themselves, but they were so merged that I could shift from one and find myself inside the other without moving.”
“The playground song in my head went, First comes love, then comes hideous betrayal, then comes endless regret requiring expensive therapy. It was a terrible song. It didn’t even rhyme. But it was mine, and I hadn’t made a family, even though I’d wanted one”