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The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

The Almost Sisters

by Joshilyn Jackson

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Leia Birch Briggs, a graphic novelist, has always had a soft spot for super heroes. And on her last night attending the comics convention she finds herself in her hotel room with Batman after having met him in the bar. Unfortunately, several months later, she also discovers that she is pregnant. Because she is thirty-eight and she knows the child will be biracial Leia decides to keep the news from her family until she absolutely has to tell them. To complicate matters, she does not know the name of the baby’s father.

Before she can tell her family, she is called to assist her elderly grandmother who has developed health problems. Coincidentally, her half-sister and husband are experiencing marital troubles. So Leia takes her niece and they set out for Alabama to help her grandmother. While she is there a dangerous secret is revealed when a trunk is removed from her grandmother’s attic. Of course the situation must get worse before it can eventually get better.

There is much about families and their history and about siblings and their relationships. Bigotry and racial adversity also play an important role in the story. And Jackson introduces the reader to two very distinct sides of the South, on one hand the goodness of the friendly helpful neighbor and on the other hand the darkness of racial prejudice.

Overall Jackson relates an interesting but sometimes depressing story of family life in the south while at the same time adding a bit of humor and hope.
( )
  Rdglady | Nov 20, 2018 |
Even though this book wasn’t about a sibling relationship like I expected, I did enjoy it nevertheless. It was about family, how complicated and yet so simple it can be. There was some exploration of racism in the American South and it’s legacy. All the references to comics we love, art and relationship mistakes are also here. This was a fun book and the author really did an amazing job narrating the audiobook herself. ( )
  redwritinghood38 | Nov 6, 2018 |
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and I found it an engaging, well-written story, with likable, well-developed characters tackling social issues like racism, unplanned pregnancy, aging, and complex relationships.
The title is a double entendre. The "Almost Sisters" could be Leia, the heroine, and her stepsister, Rachel, very different in looks and personality but raised since the age of three by Leia's widowed mother and Rachel's divorced father. Rachel is married to Jake (a.k.a. J.J.), Leia's former best friend and first love, the first man who broke her heart.
The "Almost Sisters" could also be Birchie, Leia's 90-year-old paternal grandmother, wealthy descendant of Birchville's founder, and her best friend Wattie. After Birchie's mother died in childbirth, Wattie's mother, Vina (Birchie's white father's black housekeeper), became a surrogate mother to Birchie. Birchie and Wattie live together in the Birch family's Victorian mansion, which is full of secrets.
The "Almost Sisters could also be Violet and Violence, alter ego characters in the graphic novel that made Leia famous among the comic book/superhero crowd.
When the story opens, Leia finds out she's pregnant, the result of a drunken one-night stand with a black fan dressed as Batman. Before she's able to break the news to her family that she's about to become a single mother to a biracial son, Rachel's marriage implodes and Birchie suffers a very public dementia-like episode. Leia must travel to Birchville to sort out new living arrangements for Birchie and Wattie. Rachel asks Leia to take her teenage daughter Lavender along while she handles details of her separation from Jake.
Lavender is the first to discover Leia's pregnancy, and she disagrees with Leia's desire to raise the baby alone. She tracks the father on social media and secretly contacts him from Leia's Facebook account.
In the meantime, human bones are found in Birchie's attic, and there's a strong possibility they might belong to Birchie's father. Leia has to figure out how to keep her grandmother and Wattie out of prison while repairing relationships and building a new one with a man who wants to help raise his son.
I think there could be a sequel! ( )
  SMarchisello | Oct 4, 2018 |
This was the first of Joshilyn Jackson's books I read (listened to) but it won't be the last. Lively, engaging characters and an intriguing story that explores all kinds of family ties.... including ties to superheros! The story is filled with interesting twists and turns, and even though you think you understand the title... just wait! ( )
  CYGeeker | Sep 6, 2018 |
Not my normal read, but what a great read it was! Mystery, family angst, love and unspeakable secrets. ( )
  cougargirl1967 | Aug 30, 2018 |
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My son, Digby, began at exactly 3:02 in the morning on the first Friday in June.
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"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"--… (more)

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