Have I mentioned how much I love using Overdrive to checkout eBooks without ever leaving my house? It is the perfect library. And THE SUNSHINE SISTERS by Jane Green is a title you should check out (by any checkout method).
- Fantasy – YA and series as opposed to epic. This is the genre that helps me escape and fully engages my imagination
- Christian Romance – I’m writing in this genre fairly regularly, so I need to read it in order to write it better. I also prefer things like Susan May Warren’s adventure romances over a straight “boy and girl fall in love” romance.
- Sweet Romance that’s more than just romance – I mean that there’s a mystery or an adventure or something. The romances I write tend to lean toward this, as well. The story is about the character’s struggle to change and the romance is a catalyst in that process.
- Women’s fiction – usually this is for a book club (as is the case with Ms. Green’s book reviewed below), but I’m also branching out into this genre because it’s where I hope to write in the future.
This is the story of a mother and her daughters.
The mother is a “B movie” actress who is always hoping for her big break. This motivation informs every decision she makes and impacts her children.
The oldest daughter, Nell, closes herself off to emotion. It’s the way she learned to cope with her mother’s rants and rages. When she becomes a single mother, she makes different choices for herself and her son, fully loving him as she doesn’t anyone else.
The middle daughter, Meridith, becomes a people-pleaser. She runs to London and her grandparents when she’s eighteen, but she can’t make independent decisions. Every time she does, it turns out badly which reinforces the lie that she’s meant to make others happy while ignoring her own unhappiness.
And then there’s the spoiled youngest girl, Lizzy. She roars through life mowing down all who try to stand in her way. This doesn’t make her successful or larger than life, but it does make her more like her mother than she’s willing to admit.
The story problem: can this family overcome the differences that divide them to unite and become a true family?
This story starts at the end. I don’t like that. It steals the tension from the story for me.
I think, “Oh, so she’s going to..blank.” Why do I care about what leads to that decision?
Green won me over by sharing only vignettes from the forty years of the characters’ lives that mattered to understand 1) why each daughter responded to her mother in that way and 2) where their personal lie came from. She proved she knew how to craft a great story.
Often if there are more than a couple narrating characters, I disengage from the story of many of them and gravitate to those chapters narrated by the ones I connected with. Even with four (and more) narrators, that didn’t happen with this book.
This doesn’t mean I LIKED all the narrators, but their stories intersected in a way that kept me engaged. Each scene moved the characters closer to the big reveal readers glimpsed in the opening chapter (a prologue).
There were several aspects that felt contrived to me and even came out of the blue rather than being hinted at naturally. And I predicted every outcome of the story (but I usually do, that’s a curse of being a fiction writer).
The end satisfied me in every way and gave a glimpse into what the future might hold for THE SUNSHINE SISTERS.
This is a 4.6 out of five star read, and well worth the time investment (and I devoured it in two days).
This is a book for anyone with sisters or a mother. Yeah, that is most of you. Doesn’t everyone have a mother at least?
Even though I didn’t especially like the main mother character in this story, I could still relate to her struggles and failures. This is what makes the most meaningful story, and authors who are able to draw characters that our so real we “know” them deserve respect and praise.
Thanks for your wonderful snapshot of the Sunshine family, Ms. Green. You entertained, engaged and even enlightened me.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? What are your favorite genres to read?