One of the three quotes listed in this books' epigraph:
Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits, nevertheless, calmly licking its chops." - H. I. Mencken
We follow the lives of a dramatic mother and daughter. A media mishap has the mother writing her daughter out of her will and acting like a complete crazy person. The daughter is at a point in her life where she's finally achieving her dreams (though emotionally stunted by a lack of communication) and the mom is leaving those of us reading with flashbacks of mommy dearest the more we learn. Emotionally aware readers, be warned ... it's a teary ride.
I found a copy at a thrift shop at a point in my life where mothers and daughters having a better understanding and acceptance of one another seemed more important than ever. The Washington Post is quoted on the cover of my copy as saying, "..deeply moving novel about the complex bonds between a mother and a daughter." I haven't watched the movie, but that description sealed the deal. I snatched it up, hoping some wisdom would be found within its pages.
I almost didn't finish reading it. I found the characters endearing. I liked the way Rebecca Wells could make us see and feel from both sides of the coin (Vivi and Sidda). The majority of scenarios and memories described were well thought out and contributed to emotional and psychological understanding about her characters later on. However, there were moments when it seemed to just ramble on about things that didn't add to the story ... just filled space. I don't have much patience for a book that reads that way. I don't need constant excitement, but don't waste my precious reading time; it's just too rare. More than this, though, the slavery and socially acceptable ignorance permeating the story made the already volatile emotional structure doubly intense. Truth be told, it was unavoidable using this period in time. That doesn't make it high on my list to want to finish reading, though. I know more than enough about the old south, thanks.
The best of the book out shined my two major gripes (above). Rebecca captured how our pasts contribute to our futures, how familial bonds are in no way lesser when not forged by blood, and how we are all just HUMAN and so are those who we'd like to blame for our faults and issues. Our choices should define us, not our pasts. Own it, but move on. The parental figure you feel slighted by; they're as human as you are. Give each other a break. Give each other your time; it is not guaranteed you'll have another chance. And from the parental side, stop taking everything so personally. Your kid may be just as self absorbed as you are, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't still willingly reach out to them ... even (especially?) when they're lost in their own world.
I was stuck between three and four stars for this one. I had to go with four due to the brilliance of the ya-ya's, overall. The more I consider the ya-ya's, I was almost able to bump it up to a five and forget my issues with the delivery and subject matter that's just a complete bummer. Their bond is what we could all only hope to find in life. If you're a fan of the ya-ya sisterhood and are in the Phoenix area, I found a listing for a local chapter of ya-ya's here. Let me know in the comments if you join the local ranks of ya-ya's!