The Sisters by Nancy Jensen
Posted by Caitie F on January 4, 2012
Summary from goodreads:
Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fisher and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings. But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.
What happens when nothing turns out as you planned? From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful. Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.
I don’t know the last time I read such a depressing novel. Not to say it wasn’t a good book, it really, was. It was just so sad. A sister does something rash to save her sister from the disturbing abuse she has endured for years and the younger sister refuses see that there is more to it than meets the eye. Instead of being safe together, they never see each other again.
Luckily, it is not all sadness and sorrow. Mabel (the older sister) actually has a good life and reading about her side of the family is a joy. Both sides struggle with the horrors of war, and watching how she approaches it for the good of all is beautiful and thought-provoking.
I wanted to smack her sister though. Not only does she ignore Mabel’s letters explaining what happen, but she is also not a very good person or mother. She is mean to her relatives and it bitter for her entire life, even though she has the chance to change things. It was a great example of how regret and anger can eat you up inside.
All in all, it is a fantastically written book of beauty and sorrow. It is one of the better multi-generational books I have read (and wow are they popular now!). If you like this kind of historical fiction, it is worth a read…just be ready for some sadness.