Monday, July 31, 2017

The Almost Sisters

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
HarperCollins: 7/11/17
advanced reading copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062105714

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson is a very highly recommended novel about family, aging, privilege, and the South. This incredible novel has it all - memorable, quirky characters, remarkable writing, and an outstanding plot. The Almost Sisters may be my favorite novel by Jackson to date (which is special because I have loved all her novels), and is a contender for my top ten books of the year.

Leia Birch Briggs, 38, is a successful comic book artist who was in the bar at a comics convention when she met Batman and fell hard. "Plus, tequila never was the handmaiden of good decisions. I’d asked him up to my room. We’d started kissing in the elevator..." The result is Leia is pregnant with Batman's child. All she remembers is that he is black so her child, a boy she calls Digby, will be biracial. She wants Digby despite the fact that "I’d walked away from every man I might have married. No, I’d run. 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. I still did."

Before she has a chance to break the news to her family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes on the same day her 90 year-old grandmother Birchie makes it known in some very public comments while at church that she is slipping into dementia. Leia ends up taking her 13 year-old niece, Lavender, with her as she heads to Birchie's home where she lives with her life-long friend Wattie in a small Alabama town. Leia is now faced with cleaning out the family home and finding some place safe for Birchie and Wattie to live - and they don't want to leave. She also still needs to tell her family she's expecting. But nothing is as simple as a to-do list and even more surprises and complications await her in Alabama than she could imagine.

Jackson always writes funny, quirky, unique characters that are memorable and resonate with you long after the novel is over. The Almost Sisters is no exception. I loved the characters in this novel. I love Leia, Birchie, Wattie, Lavender, Rachel, and Batman. (It helps that we do geek in my home.) I also love how Jackson portrays families here: messy and complicated, but supportive even while shaking their heads at the events that are unfolding and secrets that are revealed. And the humor throughout the novel is integrated perfectly into the characters voices and actions.

The the quality of the writing is phenomenal and the pacing is perfect. I was caught up in the narrative from beginning to end and enjoyed every turn and new revelation that came along. Jackson has an understanding, empathetic way of handling some serious issues, including aging grandparents, blended families, contentions between sisters, the existence of privilege, and racism. She does it so gracefully, with humor and insight, that you won't realize at first how skillfully she has covered some serious topics.

I agree with the Kirkus review that said The Almost Sisters is "A satisfying, entertaining read from an admired writer who deserves to be a household name."

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.



Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I got so excited reading the reviews for this book that I immediately got a copy of the audiobook. I'm so looking forward to starting it after my current book is finished!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

Lori L said...

I have a feeling that the audiobook will be even better - if that is possible. It is an incredible novel!