Rebecca Wells' wonderful third book in her Ya-Ya trilogy, which includes Little Altars Everywhere and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, is sure to provide reading that makes you laugh and cry, a book that will break your heart and mend it again.
Ya-Yas in Bloom reveals the roots of the Ya-Yas' friendship in the 1930s, following Vivi, Teensy, Caro and Necie through sixty years of marriage, child-raising, and hair-raising family secrets. When four-year-old Teensy Whitman prisses one time too many and stuffs a big old pecan up her nose, she sets off the chain of events that lead Vivi, Teensy, Caro, and Necie to become true sister-friends. Using as narration the alternating voices of Vivi and the Petite Ya-Yas, Siddalee and Baylor Walker, as well as other denizens of Thornton, Louisiana, Wells show us the Ya-Yas in love and at war with convention. Through crises of faith and hilarious lapses of parenting skills, brushes with alcoholism and glimpses of the dark reality of racial bigotry, the Ya-Ya values of unconditional loyalty, high style, and Louisiana sass shine through.
Ya-Yas in Bloom is really more of a collection of additional stories and is not as focused as the earlier two books, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere. It starts out strong and then sort of meanders around. I can see where that might put some readers off, but, as a fan of the Ya-Yas, I basically enjoyed it. It really felt like Wells was a friend who was just telling me some family stories during a visit. (And I'll be the first to admit that I have an uncle who played duck call Christmas carols during family Christmas get-togethers, so that phenomenon is not just found in Louisiana.) But this third Ya-Yas book is not as good as the first two books and does come across as an afterthought of additional stories that didn't make it into the other books. It has been several years since I read the first two Ya-Yas books. Perhaps that explains why I enjoyed Ya-Yas in Bloom enough that I was going to be pretty generous in my recommendation for fans to read it - until I read an interview with Rebecca Wells that ticked me off. I'm going to rise above that and Recommend it - for die hard fans.
Vivi, January 1994
My name is Viviane Abbott Walker. Age sixty-eight, but I can pass for forty-nine. And I do. I altered my driver's license and kept that gorgeous picture of me when my hair was still thick and I looked like Jessica Lange, and glued it onto every new license I've had since 1975. And not one officer has said a word to me about it. opening
As Ya-Yas, we've grown up, raised our kids--the Petites Ya-Yas--and welcomed our grandchildren, the Très Petites, into this sweet, crazy world. We've helped one another stay glued together through most any life event you can imagine. pg. 1-2
Oh, there is pain in my life, but it is harder to put a name to it. Sometimes I lie in bed and wonder if there was a typhoid booster or dental checkup that I forgot to give Sidda, Little Shep, Lulu, or Baylor. Something I missed and should have done. Sometimes I lie in bed and wish I had just asked the kids what would have made them feel more loved. But I do not dwell, thank you very much. I follow Necie's words of wisdom: "Just think pretty pink and blue thoughts." pg. 4
In the beginning was the word. And the word was pecan. Or was it nostril? pg. 13
As they walked from the bank to the doctor's office, Teensy called out to each person they passed, "I stuck a pecan up my nose!" she pointed to her nose. "And nobody in town can get it out!" pg 14
"And try to contemplate that God sent us here to love him and worship him and venerate the mother of his Blessed Son. Also keep in mind that He is a generous God who does not expect perfection but does expect reverence. God needs good little girls. But sometimes He also needs busy little gophers." pg 32-33
If we are lucky and God is good to us, Little Shep and me will grow old together. We'll sit out on the porch and tell stories about how when we were children, about how he was the kind of little boy who'd knock himself out cold for something as beautiful and rare as snow. pg. 93
I have stolen other things though. Haven't we all? There are no stones to throw here. I have no stones in my hand. pg. 202