Rosaland, Bianca, and Cordelia Andreas grew up in a small college town and are forever known as the daughters of their Shakespeare-scholar father. Although the two younger sisters left home--Bean to New York, and Cordy to see where the road took her--Rose stayed close by, helping out her parents and pursuing her math career.
When their mother is diagnosed with cancer, the sisters return to their childhood home. Their reunion brings out old conflicts and threatens to expose new secrets.
You'll probably read reviews that describe Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters as being about a dysfunctional family that is forced to face up to their differences and missteps. Although it's true that the Andreases are not your average family, their story is, at its core, universal: This is about a loving family that sometimes struggles to find common ground and sisters who try to balance friendship with competition and jealousy.
The sisters' father is basically an absentminded professor who responds to almost every situation with a quote from The Bard. Their somewhat oblivious mother has a tendency to get lost in her own head. But these are parents who know when to support their daughters and when to let go. They understand that the girls must make mistakes before they can become self-confident, responsible adults.
Brown may not have written about your family and your brothers and sisters, but she has beautifully captured sibling relationships, exposing feelings that young adults are sometimes hesitant to admit even to themselves. She has also created an authentic picture of the confusing, conflicting years of young adulthood when children are straddling the line that divides their college persona from their blossoming maturity.
Scattered throughout the text are perfectly placed quotations from Shakespeare, and you need not have read the plays to understand the meaning. I would, however, like to share a paragraph in which neither the plays nor the sisters are mentioned:
There is nothing that is not beautiful about bread. The way it grows, from tiny grains, from bowls on the counter, from yeast blooming in a measuring cup like swampy islands. The way it fills a room, a house, a building, with its inimitable smells at every stage of the process. The way it swells, submits to a firmly applied fist and contracts, swells again; the way it stretches and expands upon kneading, the warm, supple feel of it against skin. The sight of a warm roll on a table, the taste--sweet, sour, yeasty on the tongue. (p. 286)For another peek at the text, see my teaser post from a few weeks ago.
Even though it's only January, it's hard for me to imagine that The Weird Sisters will be bumped off my top reads list for 2011.
Be sure to come back on Thursday when author Eleanor Brown and I will have an exciting Imprint Extra that will tie into The Weird Sisters. I promise that you won't want to miss it.
Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.
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