Tag: family problems

Summer with THE SUNSHINE SISTERS

Have I mentioned how much I love using Overdrive to checkout eBooks without ever leaving my house? It is the perfect library. And THE SUNSHINE SISTERS by Jane Green is a title you should check out (by any checkout method).


This isn’t my typical read. I say that half the time I write a review, I know. Maybe you’re wondering, “What IS your typical read?”
Glad you asked. I typically read:

  1. Fantasy – YA and series as opposed to epic. This is the genre that helps me escape and fully engages my imagination
  2. Christian Romance – I’m writing in this genre fairly regularly, so I need to read it in order to write it better. I also prefer things like Susan May Warren’s adventure romances over a straight “boy and girl fall in love” romance.
  3. Sweet Romance that’s more than just romance – I mean that there’s a mystery or an adventure or something. The romances I write tend to lean toward this, as well. The story is about the character’s struggle to change and the romance is a catalyst in that process.
  4. Women’s fiction – usually this is for a book club (as is the case with Ms. Green’s book reviewed below), but I’m also branching out into this genre because it’s where I hope to write in the future.

The Story

This is the story of a mother and her daughters.

The mother is a “B movie” actress who is always hoping for her big break. This motivation informs every decision she makes and impacts her children.

The oldest daughter, Nell, closes herself off to emotion. It’s the way she learned to cope with her mother’s rants and rages. When she becomes a single mother, she makes different choices for herself and her son, fully loving him as she doesn’t anyone else.

The middle daughter, Meridith, becomes a people-pleaser. She runs to London and her grandparents when she’s eighteen, but she can’t make independent decisions. Every time she does, it turns out badly which reinforces the lie that she’s meant to make others happy while ignoring her own unhappiness.

And then there’s the spoiled youngest girl, Lizzy. She roars through life mowing down all who try to stand in her way. This doesn’t make her successful or larger than life, but it does make her more like her mother than she’s willing to admit.

The story problem: can this family overcome the differences that divide them to unite and become a true family?

My Review

This story starts at the end. I don’t like that. It steals the tension from the story for me.
I think, “Oh, so she’s going to..blank.” Why do I care about what leads to that decision?

Green won me over by sharing only vignettes from the forty years of the characters’ lives that mattered to understand 1) why each daughter responded to her mother in that way and 2) where their personal lie came from. She proved she knew how to craft a great story.

Often if there are more than a couple narrating characters, I disengage from the story of many of them and gravitate to those chapters narrated by the ones I connected with. Even with four (and more) narrators, that didn’t happen with this book.

This doesn’t mean I LIKED all the narrators, but their stories intersected in a way that kept me engaged. Each scene moved the characters closer to the big reveal readers glimpsed in the opening chapter (a prologue).

There were several aspects that felt contrived to me and even came out of the blue rather than being hinted at naturally. And I predicted every outcome of the story (but I usually do, that’s a curse of being a fiction writer).

The end satisfied me in every way and gave a glimpse into what the future might hold for THE SUNSHINE SISTERS.

This is a 4.6 out of five star read, and well worth the time investment (and I devoured it in two days).

My Recommendation

This is a book for anyone with sisters or a mother. Yeah, that is most of you. Doesn’t everyone have a mother at least?

Even though I didn’t especially like the main mother character in this story, I could still relate to her struggles and failures. This is what makes the most meaningful story, and authors who are able to draw characters that our so real we “know” them deserve respect and praise.

Thanks for your wonderful snapshot of the Sunshine family, Ms. Green. You entertained, engaged and even enlightened me.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on it? What are your favorite genres to read?

The fine art of double-standard

Hypocrite

High expectations rule in my world. But do I have the right to hold others to the standard? Especially since I so often fall short?

You know what I mean. We have ideals. Things are important to us – and other people should value them, too.

Or should they?

Rewind to my post about wedding traditions.

Was it okay for me to expect people to dress a certain way for the small ceremony? After all, I didn’t feel it was right for someone else to judge me based on what I was wearing.

This double-standard isn’t reserved for special events. We operate in its shadow every day.

A few examples

  • Conservation of natural resources is important – but I drive a gas-guzzling SUV
  • It’s unhealthy not to eat fruits or vegetables at every meal – and I have cheese and crackers
  • Communication is essential to any relationship – but when was the last time I really listened to my sons?
  • Surfing the net or checking Facebook while “on the clock” is the same as stealing from your boss, but I’m taking a break here in my home office

Why this bothers me

I believe in freedom of choice. For everyone. I also believe a true standard of right and wrong exists, and that we’ll all be held accountable for how well we matched it.

I’m not the judge of that standard, however.

Most days I can’t even reach the bottom of its loftiness while standing on tiptoes on the step ladder.

Why do I expect others to measure up?

Is it wrong to have a standard? Or does the problem come when I expect other people to conform to my wishes?

The truth

None of us can measure up to the standard. All of us will mess up at one point or another.

I guess we should give up – stop trying to be a better person. That will solve things.

Better yet, we should lower our standards. That way, everyone measures up.

We talk about acceptance, but we still believe our way is right. Is it wrong to have convictions?

What’s wrong is expecting everyone else to have the same standards we hold. Why should they be accountable for meeting them when we stumbled and fell on our face?

In truth, it’s time for people to do a mirror check. And I despise mirrors. I like to think I’m still young and thin. The mirror tells me otherwise.

It should be the same for our standards. Do we expect others to listen to us, but we don’t listen to them? Are we imposing our dress code and moral code on others?

Can you think of a particular time someone’s double-standard shocked, amazed or angered you?