December 30, 2013

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

Deeply moving and deeply sad, this is a book that packs a lot of emotion.   When you see the title "The Sisters" you know it's going to be about family, but you don't really realize how those people will interact until reading the book.

Mabel and Bertie are sisters.  Bertie is just getting ready to graduate the eighth grade and her biggest dream is to marry Wallace, a local boy, who is older than her, but who she still adores.  Mabel, having quit school when their mother died to care for her sister and their step-father approves of Bertie's choice.  So when Mabel and Wallace run away together, and the step-father dies, it spins the whole family's world for a loop and even has an impact on future generations.

I did like Mabel much better than Bertie.  I think it was because she seemed to remain so positive while Bertie chose to dwell in the past and be miserable at times.  I understand there was a lot of heartache all around, and that the lesson of this book seemed to be that one person could dampen things throughout the whole family line, but it just seemed to me that Bertie's side of the family tree was much more depressing than Mabel's.  In fact, I was sad to see that much more of the book was dedicated to Bertie and her family than Mabel and her family.  Mabel was the much more interesting of the two.  Even so though, Bertie had quite a few characters and personalities and my favorite on her's was Grace, a granddaughter who was a bit of a free spirit.

Since this is about a family and their lives you would expect the book to move quite slowly at times.  But it doesn't.  There is always enough drama and strife going on that someone is doing something at all times.  And just the grief the characters expressed was enough to tug you in to see what happens.  And the book also deals with some hard topics such as incest, abuse, and homosexuality in the early part of the 20th century.  It's not a book to take lightly or consider afternoon pleasure reading.  There's some serious stuff going on in here.

I'm very glad I took the librarian's recommendation on this book.  While it wasn't a pleasant read, it was a good one.

The Sisters
Copyright 2011
322 pages

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