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The Almost Sisters: A Novel by Joshilyn…

The Almost Sisters: A Novel

by Joshilyn Jackson

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Leia Birch Briggs's life is upside down. She has contracted to write a prequel of her popular graphic novel and has absolutely no ideas. The reports she is getting about her Grandmother are distressing. Leia is on her way to get things in order to move her grandmother to assisted living. On top of all this she is pregnant from a one night stand and has no idea how to contact the baby's father or tell her family. Because her stepsister's marriage is falling apart, Leia finds her 13 year old niece Lavender coming along to with her. When she arrives she finds Birchie and her long time friend Wattie determined to fight her all the way on leaving the family home. Birchie and Wattie become desperate and try to escape, but a discovery sets off a chain of events that can't be stopped. Birchie and Wattie' story, at times heartbreaking, is told with humor and honesty. This author always delivers a great story with characters that you know are going to pull your heartstrings. ( )
  Nise | May 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I loved Leia as a person. She would fit right in to my nerd troupe, and I really felt connected to her. I also lost both of my grandmothers to dementia, and parts of the novel really hit me in the gut. The mystery weaved through the novel kept me reading at a furious pace.

On another note: Digby? Seriously? You want to call you son Digby? My generation is saddling kids with some outrageously stupid names, but Digby is is so embarrassing. I feel bad for the poor kid, and he's not even real.

This will probably appeal to readers of family-drama type books, though I could certainly see it having a wide appeal to all kinds of readers. Right on time for lazy summer reading. ( )
  LISandKL | May 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The two Souths intertwine in The Almost Sisters, by Joshilyn Jackson, not unlike the classic Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.
When 38-year-old, white, single, Leia Birch becomes pregnant as a result of a one-night stand with a Black man, she’s surprised but not unhappy. Just as she is getting used to this, she is called back to her hometown to make decisions about her grandmother, who has Lewy Body dementia. This disease causes her grandmother Birchie to hallucinate in between moments of lucidity. It might sound as though this could be a very sad book, but in fact, it’s very funny.

In the middle of these serious situations, Leia is irrepressible and we love her for it. She even makes us laugh. Her values are right, but she has no illusions that everything is going to turn out well, or even that people mean well. She simply forges on.

“The South I’d been born into was all sweet tea and decency and Jesus, and it was a real, true place. I had grown up inside it, because my family lived there. …The Second South was always present, though, and in it decency was a thin, green cover over the rancid soil of our dark history.” –p221

There are parallels and contrasts throughout the novel. Leia sees her home town in a different light just as her grandmother starts hallucinating. Leia has a close stepsister with marriage problems, while we learn more about the relationship between Birchie and her close companion Wattie. The new South is contrasted with the old South, and both have problems that Leia deals with in her inimitable way.

I received this book as an Early Reviewer, and would recommend it to anyone who liked Jackson’s previous novels (gods in Alabama; Between, Georgia) or who would enjoy a funny, contemporary novel that deals with some of the South’s past and present social issues. Be sure to check out Jackson’s website (www.joshilynjackson.com) for upcoming dates of her book tour, including a virtual event in August. ( )
1 vote lansum | May 5, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book from Early Reviewers. Having enjoyed other novels by this author, I was pleased when I was selected to review Almost Sisters. The author again sets her novel in the South, and Southern culture and roots are an important aspect of the story. The main character. Leia, is a comic book illustrator and author who becomes pregnant with a bi-racial baby due to a one-night stand at a comic con event. She has a complex relationship with her stepsister Rachel, who is married to Leia's first sexual partner. When Rachel's marriage hits a very rocky place, and Leia's grandmother sinks into dementia, Leia has more on her plate than ever before. When she pays a visit to her grandmother, she struggles with how to deal with the effects of the dementia and whether to contact the father of her baby. More family secrets unexpectedly are unearthed, and Leia has to face emotions and facts in the best way she can. All of the storylines and characters' relationships are intertwined. I found this novel engaging except for the descriptions and influence of Leia's comic book characters. I did not think Leia's struggle to write a prequel to her famous comic book added to the novel, and it seemed forced to me. Her grandmother's dementia is heartbreaking, and I could empathize with Leia's emotional pain in dealing with it. The relationship between the stepsisters however was not as well developed. I would give this book 3.5 stars. It is an enjoyable read, and parts of it have emotional depth, while some are not as well-written. ( )
  catfan69 | May 2, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've yet to read anything by this author which I have not been swept up into the story. I was not disappointed. In fact, this book grabbed my heart and didn't let go. I mean, the main character is a graphic novel artist/writer and hits the cons!

But Joshilyn Jackson has a way of writing about the South, and the many layers of life here that delve beyond sweet tea, manners, and magnolias. She gets that duality of two types of south that has troubled me for so long-- there's the south I love, with the beauty of the land, the traditions, and the close knit community, and then there's that dark underbelly that launched abominations into our world which still rear their ugly heads in ways such as the slayings at Mother Emanuel AME, racism, bigotry, and other ways of stamping out human hearts and lives.

Plus, there was real compassion in the way Jackson wrote of Birchie's decline and illness, and the love between Birchie and Wattie. I also was moved by the way Jackson explored Leia's path of understanding and willingness to share her pregnancy. (But Batman as baby-daddy? How cool is that???)

Joshilyn Jackson, thank you. You hit it out of the park, again. And thanks to LibraryThing early reviewers and the publisher for sending me this copy.

From the publisher:
With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality---the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy--an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows. ( )
  bookczuk | May 2, 2017 |
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