"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

13 September 2013

2013 Book Review #37: The Sisters

Have you ever read a book that just left you breathless? 

Or just stunned you,  but in a good way?

Or just totally blew you away?

This novel did that for me.  It left me breathless in many parts, stunned in good and bad ways......and the ending just.blew.me.away.

It is not a mystery.....but there is an element of mysterious-ness about it.

It is a very powerful story that really outlines the power of family secrets, family love, and overall family resilience.


Bertie Fischer and her older sister Mabel are born to parents who love them. But their dad goes off to war and dies, leaving Mom to get re-married to a man named Jim Butcher.  He is mean and a real threat to the girls.  Then their beloved mother dies and they are left alone with their step-father.  

It is the hardscrabble country of Kentucky in the 1920s and they are poor, neglected, and abused.  Mabel quit school to run the home and take care of Bertie.  On Bertie's 8th grade graduation day, things begin to go horribly wrong.  Mabel makes a hasty choice and that results in a chain of misunderstandings that end up dividing the sisters.  The affects are felt through three generations of women in the family.

Things happen that neither one of them have planned.  The story goes from the Depression through World War II and then to Vietnam.  There are small and big events.  Some are tragic. Some are full of joy.  Bertie and Mabel carve out unexpected identities and these are shaped by secrets that are unspeakable.

They go on to have daughters and granddaughters and they discover that love and betrayal are much more complicated than they seem.

Mabel raises Daisy who raises Jenny who raises Bonnie.

Bertie raises Alma and Rainey.  Alma raises Milton (and just wait til you read about HIM!) and Milton raises Sarah until.......something happens.  And then Alma raises her granddaughter.

Rainey raises Lynn who adopts a little girl named Taylor and Rainey raises her 2nd daughter, Grace.  Grace is a breath of fresh air. But she discovers that she does not have the same daddy as Lynn, her sister. Just who is Grace's father? Will she ever learn the truth?

How do the husband's come into the story? 

What happens in the end will take your breath away.  It did mine.


A powerful book with one graphic scene that is actually well written and  will make you weep.  The graphic scene is not for children under age 17, in my opinion, due to topic of incest. However, the author does a very good job of describing a despicable act to get you to just really want to take the little girl into your arms and love on her.  This book is very eye opening because, sadly, this does go on in the world. On our continent. In our country. In our state. In our city/town. and possibly in our neighborhood.  I know. I've taught children who are survivors of this kind of abuse.

I love how each character has her own chapter and the title of each chapter includes the setting and time frame.  The author also includes a family tree in the beginning of the book that I found very helpful and referred to often, especially once Mabel and Bertie's grandchildren came along.

The author wrote beautifully of the feelings each sister had and the problem of non-communication and misunderstandings.  I love the underlying theme of the power of family and love of a family.

The sadness and loss contained in this story makes you want to adopt these little girls and just hug them to you. Yet, they grow up quickly in this book and you will admire them, hate them, be angry at them....and still love them as adults.

My favorite line from the book, which sums up this story so well is

"Whatever we carry inside us shapes everyone we touch."
~Bertie, from The Sisters by Nancy Jensen, pg 311, c.2011

That statement is so true. I know.  I've experienced it.  You might have told someone something that is deep or private or unbelievable but true. And trust me. That person is shaped from your experience and the sharing of it. They may not admit it or acknowledge it to you or even to themselves. But they are shaped by it.

This book will change you........I think..........It did me.  It left me praying for all survivors of abuse especially our most vulnerable victims....children.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9.


Susanne said...

Added it to my library list. It sounds like a bit of a "hard" read.

Faith said...

Yes it was Susanne. It took me 2 weeks to read and you know I normally read fast. There is a lot to digest in this story. I wept.

Faith said...

Yes it was Susanne. It took me 2 weeks to read and you know I normally read fast. There is a lot to digest in this story. I wept.