Sisters One, Two, Three
by Nancy Star
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 1, 2017)
After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.
When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.
At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.
Ginger cautiously relaxed now that she saw Outside Glory had arrived. That’s how Ginger thought of her mother whenever company was coming. When it was just them, the family home alone, Inside Glory ruled the day. The actual transformation of Inside to Outside was not pleasant to observe. It took about an hour with a makeup kit jammed with so many tools it no longer closed… But Outside Glory was much easier to be around. With plain-faced Inside Glory, there was no telling what might set her off.
This time when Glory stood up, she rose so fast her chair toppled over. For a moment, they all stared at it, the chair on its side on the floor, like some kind of kitchen roadkill.
Glory drove like she was an actress sitting in the chopped-off half of a fake car on an old-time movie set, images of the world whizzing by as if on a screen. It was all, look over there as the car swerved to the right, and look at that, as she overcorrected to the left. Anyone watching would surely assume they were a carload of drunken teenagers, and not a family with a mother who drove, forearms pressed against the wheel, as she inexplicably applied and then reapplied her lipstick every five minutes.
It was odd how often this happened, Ginger and Mimi retaining different slivers of family memory. It was almost as if the recollections had been split down the middle and doled out: you get this, I get that, so no one would be privy to it all.
Mimi is as stubborn as a bloodstain. Came that way straight out of the womb. And Gingie has skin like a peach. Bruises if you look too hard.
Sisters One, Two, Three was a compelling, fascinating, and smartly written book. I was completely enthralled and vastly intrigued as the story dug deeper and deeper into this amusingly odd family’s complicated web of secrets, deceptions, manipulations, egocentric tendencies, and tragedy. Every single one of them sported an obnoxious or quirky personality, Ms. Star had to have a massive amount of research to keep their eccentricities and traits consistent and on-point – as she did an excellent job of portraying these well-drawn characters while revealing their deepest of flaws yet also retaining their likeability and endearing qualities by exposing their human frailties and vulnerabilities. The story was artfully presented in an entertaining, cleverly amusing, and heart-squeezing manner. I was captivated, sympathetic, empathetic and embroiled in the children’s’ dilemma as they navigated around each other as well as their mercurial and histrionic mother. Glory was cunning, selfish, smart, witty, grandiose, and full of drama; which kept the oldest daughter, Ginger, anxious, fraught with tension, and constantly on edge while trying to personally stay off her mother’s radar as well as keeping the younger children out of trouble and safe, which of course, was impossible. The storyline was written from a third person POV and followed two timelines, twenty-five years apart. The plot was unique, brilliantly layered, expertly crafted, and enticingly executed. I was an instant fangirl of Ms. Star’s wordcraft and am signing on for life – unless she starts writing about zombies, I truly despise zombies.
Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York Times, Family Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web. Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.
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