Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: The Never Never Sisters

Summary: An absorbing, highly entertaining novel about family secrets, The Never Never Sisters introduces you to the strong-willed and big-hearted Reinhardt women, as they reunite one summer in New York. Gifted storyteller L. Alison Heller has written another witty and moving page-turner that will captivate readers and keep them guessing right up until the satisfying end.

Sometimes you just need to get away….

Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.

As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself? -- New American Library

I am always drawn to books about families, especially dysfunctional families. So when I read the description for THE NEVER NEVER SISTERS by L. Alison Heller, I knew it sounded like a book I'd enjoy. THE NEVER NEVER SISTERS is a story about the Reinhardt sisters Paige and Sloane, two women who haven't seen (or been in contact with) each other since for almost twenty years -- not since Sloane left at 16 for rehab.

Paige is a therapist who helps fix troubled marriages; however, her own marriage seems to be suffering. Her workaholic husband Dave has a crisis at work and he can't leave Manhattan for their summer rental college in the Hamptons. It's obvious to Paige that Dave is hiding something from her, but she isn't exactly understanding about his worries.

And then Sloane mysteriously shows up and throws the Reinhardt family into a tailspin. Mom is hoping for a family reunion of sorts, and Paige discovers that the Sloane isn't the horrible person she thought she was. As Paige is trying to figure out what's going on with her husband, she is also navigating the new relationship with her sister. Through some heartache and pain, Paige learns that, despite being a therapist and working with other people's issues, she doesn't have a grasp on those individuals who are closest to her... or maybe even herself for that matter.

THE NEVER NEVER SISTERS definitely lived up to my expectations. I really enjoyed this story about sisterhood and family and relationships, and I was also impressed with Ms. Heller's writing style. This is the first book that I've read by her and I wouldn't hesitate to pick up her first novel THE LOVE WARS. I found this story to be an entertaining read and I quickly got caught up in these characters' lives.

While I was interested in Paige and Dave's marriage problems, and awfully curious about what was going on in his work life, I found myself really liking the parts of this story that dealt with Paige's relationship with Sloane. Because Sloane left when Paige was so young and her departure was under difficult conditions, Paige had built up this image of Sloane that was larger than life. Her family didn't really handle Sloane's exit, and therefore, Paige allowed her absence to grow into a story of mythical proportions.

When Sloane does show up, Paige learns that Sloane isn't really the horrible person that she thought she was. Sloane seems to be fairly happy and content with her boyfriend and actually has a pretty good grasp on their parents. I found the way these two women bonded, after 20 years apart, to be heartwarming. And truly, it was exactly what Paige needed during this difficult time in her life.

Another aspect of this story that impressed me was Ms. Heller's storytelling abilities. I really liked the characters she created -- for the most part, they were likable and real to me; and the story was both touching and intriguing. I thought the she a great job of focusing on the different relationships in the story, and she also provided enough wit and insight into the novel to keep things interesting. I especially appreciated how these two women forged bonds over various things... like their parents' behavior (talk about some witty scenes!); and how Sloane was able to provide reality checks for  Paige. (For being a therapist, she was a mess when it came to her own issues!)

THE NEVER NEVER SISTERS would be a lot of fun to discuss at your next book club meeting. The author provides a reading guide with 17 fantastic questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include family dynamics, sisterhood, marriage, honestly, trust, love, redemption, second chances, denial, perception, and forgiveness.

I really enjoyed THE NEVER NEVER SISTERS and highly recommend it to fans of women's fiction.

Thanks to Wunderkind PR for providing a copy of this novel.


The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Sounds good to me!

bermudaonion said...

That sounds like my kind of book!!

Kim@Time2Read said...

This is one I've been wanting to read. Glad you enjoyed it!