Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#BookReview: THE ALMOST SISTERS by Joshilyn Jackson

Summary: 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 bar stool 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.

Review: Right about now you're probably wondering why a blog about characters of color or authors of color is reviewing a Joshilyn Jackson book. Well first and foremost, Joshilyn Jackson is a writing ass writer. Out of her nine published novels & novellas, only one has left me even slightly disappointed. Another reason I'm reviewing The Almost Sisters is because Jackson tackles race in her most recent work in a nice, nasty way that only a woman of the South can.

Jackson's characters aren't perfect, as a matter of fact, they're downright messy. From outward appearances this doesn't seem to be the case, but scratching the surface reveals a whole layer of hidden dirt. And that's what The Almost Sisters revolves around.

Leia is the sister that doesn't have her shit together. While her stepsister Rachel lives a perfect, almost Stepford Wives existence, Leia is a mess. A one-night stand at a comic book convention has left her pregnant by a man she barely remembers. Messy, right? But the facade that covers Rachel's messiness begins to crack too. In addition to that, Leia's beloved grandmother is losing it down in Alabama, saying things in public that no proper southern lady should ever say. So Leia to the rescue, but how do you rescue two old ladies who have more secrets between them than one would think possible?

As Leia tries to save her beloved Birchie and Wattie from themselves, she discovers (with the help of her nosy niece) that she's a lot stronger than she thought. It's interesting to read her take on dealing with race and racism from a thoughtful white woman's point of view. She exposes the dual reality that towns split by race live with and the fear that every mother, but especially the soon to be mother of a black child, confronts upon realizing that their child will have to deal with racism in a way that she may not have. With weird and quirky characters that we've all come to know and appreciate from Jackson, she tells this story of old southern women, race and family in a way that only she could.

352 p.
Published: July 2017
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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