Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much. But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from-one another, their small hometown, and themselves-might offer more than they ever expected. -- Amy Einhorn
Amy Einhorn has done it again -- another fantastic book! That's two in a row I've recently read and reviewed if you're counting. The latest book that I adored is Eleanor Brown's THE WEIRD SISTERS. This book actually had me from the first sentence of the description -- "There is no problem that a library card can't solve." What book lover doesn't understand that sentiment? And who can help but be drawn to a family that lives by that general motto?
THE WEIRD SISTERS really is "such stuff as dreams are made on." (Yes, that's a William Shakespeare quote!) I loved every page of this book -- from the characters, to the Shakespeare quotes, to Ms. Brown's writing. THE WEIRD SISTERS is just a wonderful read; and one that I will be highly recommending to all of my family and friends.
Any time I try to articulate my thoughts about a great book, I find it extremely difficult. There were so many special things about this story. I could start by telling you that I couldn't put this book down and I didn't want it to end, but I'm not sure that's going to make you pick up this book. Maybe I should just start with the character development -- I liked all three of the sisters and I felt as if I truly got to know then while reading this book. From all outside appearances, each sister was extremely different and I think readers will find one sister to which they can relate. Furthermore, I loved how each woman grew to not only discover things about herself, but also to make positive changes in her life based on that knowledge. In so many ways, it was a coming-of-age story for all three women! I think all three women realized in their own time that "To thine own self be true." (Yep -- another Shakespeare quote!)
In addition to the characters, I also loved how the sisters' relationship was portrayed. The quote on the front of the book kind of sums it all up -- "See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much." These three women were so different from each other in many ways, and they experienced many of the same things that all siblings do -- jealousy, resentment, etc. But what I really appreciated about their relationship is that, for much of the story, they were unable to define themselves apart from each other. This aspect just made things so complicated for each of them.
Another amazing part about this story was Ms. Brown's writing style. I just loved it! I could go on and on about her prose, but I think I'll just feature one very special aspect of this novel which set it apart from so many other books about family dynamics. THE WEIRD SISTERS was written in "omniscient first person plural" -- that means the collective "we" instead of "I." I thought that by writing this novel in this fashion, Ms. Brown managed to effectively convey just how tightly linked these sisters' lives were.
You won't be surprised when I tell you that THE WEIRD SISTERS would make a fantastic book club selection -- and I'm pretty sure it will be a popular one for the next few years. There is a reading group guide available with seventeen discussion questions which I absolutely loved. They managed to capture the essence of the story while also challenging the reader to really think! Some of the topics you might want to explore include sibling rivalry, parent/child relationships, family dynamics, maturity, blame, illness, forgiveness and acceptance to name just a few. And make sure you also read the very interesting interview with Ms. Brown that is part of the guide.
As far as I'm concerned THE WEIRD SISTERS is another must-read book of 2011 -- boy am I on a roll! I loved everything about it especially Ms. Brown's writing style. I certainly hope that she is already working on another book because I have some advice for her -- If THE WEIRD SISTERS is any indication of your talent as a writer, "Be not afraid of greatness!" (That's another Shakespeare quote in case you were wondering!)
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this novel.