Thursday, July 26, 2012

"The Weird Sisters"

Review-- “The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown


I love books.  I love books about books and I love books with characters that love books.  And the family at the center of “The Weird Sisters,” well, they love books, too.  While the Dad is a Shakespearean professor (hence his daughters all being named after characters in the Bard’s plays) and quotes Shakespeare for his part in just about any conversation, no one in the family is a book snob.  They read just about any book, without discrimination, mainly because it happens to be closest to them.  With the exception of the works of Shakespeare, we aren’t informed of a single title that any of the characters reads throughout the novel, and it seems to be because it doesn’t matter to them what they are reading, so long as they are reading something.

The original “weird sisters” hail from Macbeth, and here, at the center of the novel, we have our own “weird sisters,” who will explain to you, early on in the book, that “weird” to Shakespeare doesn’t mean anything close to what “weird” means to us.  For the first time since reaching independence and taking their own paths, the three sisters are all home together.  They’d tell anyone who asked that it was because their Mom has breast cancer, but the truth is that they each have their own reason for returning and staying.  We have Rose, locked into her sense of responsibility as the eldest daughter, refusing to leave out of the certainty that the family would fall apart without her.  But the truth is, something else is keeping here there.  And then there is Cordy, who clearly wants to be by her mother’s side although there is no denying that something else really forced her into giving up her nomadic lifestyle.  And finally, Bean, who for the first time not only can but must leave her carefully created life in New York.  Caring and dealing with their mother’s illness serves as a backdrop as the women each struggle to overcome the Shakespearean idea of what makes them “wyrd,” and instead realize that people can, in fact, change, and make a life for themselves rather than letting it happen to them.   

An interesting aspect to the novel is that it has a first person plural point of view, meaning it is actually narrated by all three sisters as one voice.  And while we learn, over the course of the novel, each individual character’s personal truth, we get the impression of all three sisters as one.  Interesting, because isn’t it true that sometimes our family see things in us; our true motivations, fears, and feelings, that we try to keep neatly wrapped and hidden away?  Your siblings will tell you the bottom line, point blank, which is that the collective voice of the sisters does for the readers in each circumstance.

Overall, the story is an interesting exploration of the complicated relationships of sisters and the family as a whole.  Truthfully, it didn’t suck me in and while I didn’t mind the characters, at times I had a hard time finding a reason to really be rooting for them.  I wanted it to work out; I just didn’t care all that much, or maybe I knew that, predictably, it would.  

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