Sometimes coming home for the holidays isn’t as easy as it seems…
It’s December 21, and the Yancey sisters have been called home. When the girls were young, holidays at their family farm meant a tinsel-garnished tree, the scent of simmering food, and laughter ringing through the house. But as the years unfolded, family bonds fractured, and the three sisters scattered and settled into separate lives. Until now. The Yancey sisters are coming to spend the holidays with their mother. They’re also coming to bury their father.
Claire, the youngest, a free spirit who journeyed to California, returns first. Then comes Julia, the eldest, a college professor with a teenage son of her own. And finally there’s Maya, the middle child, who works so hard to be the perfect mother and wife.
During the sisters’ week together, old conflicts surface, new secrets emerge, and the limits and definitions of family are tested. And as the longest night of the year slips by and brightening days beckon, the sisters will have to answer one question: When you’re a sister, aren’t you a sister forever?
Review: I finished this book a few weeks ago and had to mull over my feelings towards it. At times it hit too closely to home and I’d have to put it down and walk away until I was able to go back to it. The other times I just wanted to throw my ipad because I was frustrated.
The girls have come home to bury their alcoholic, drunk father who died a few days before Christmas. None of them had been home since they left. Elise, their mother, is happy to have her daughters back home so that they can spend Christmas together and help her in this difficult time. She also hopes that they can forgive the past hurts and forge new bonds.
It’s difficult to explain this book without giving away spoilers. It’s very complex and there are so many different storylines between the girls, their mother, their father, and each of their lives. Mixed between the chapters is a sad cry for help that brought me to tears many times.
I found Elise to be weak. She had no backbone whatsoever and was pretty clueless as to what was going on in her daughters’ lives. She barely knew her grandchildren and seemed to live in a fog for the most part. Towards the end I found myself surprised to lean a few things about her. I know that in the time period she and her daughters grew up in that most women just dealt with abuse rather than strike out on their own, but it seemed that Elise only found her backbone after it was too late.
Julia – or Queenie as her sisters refer to her as – was an interesting character. I didn’t get the vibe that she was a bad mother, though her son certainly seemed to think so. She is the oldest of the girls and takes charge as soon as she arrives home. I felt sorry for her because her husband seemed to care more about his work than he did her and Eli, his stepson. I would have liked some more background about her rather than jumbled bits and only really knowing a little bit from Eli’s point of view.
Maya – Oh my word, for the most part I just wanted to slap her and bring her back down a peg or two. Her need for constant perfection and micromanaging made me want to rip my hair out. I kept wanting to beg her to remove the stick before it became a permanent part of her anatomy. I did feel sorry for her once we got to know a little more of her, but I truly wished that she would open her eyes and just listen instead of being judgmental, but it wasn’t part of her makeup to be rational; she had always felt she needed to control everything, not just herself.
Brad, Maya’s husband, is a heel and could use some therapy and some time in a rehab for addicts. In a way I could understand his behavior, but then again I just found him to be a coward all around. He cared very little about his wife and even less about his children. He should have done the humane thing and left a long time ago.
Claire was my favorite character of them all. She was a free spirit with broken wings. Her childhood was a nightmare, but she struck out on her own without ever looking back. She was treated horribly not just by her father, but her sisters as well. I wanted to hug her, to let her know that she COULD heal and that eventually wounds do heal, even if the scars never fade.
I did enjoy this book as a whole, even if some of the characters were just frustrating to read about. I opted to not give my opinion about Eli so that anyone else who reads could form their own opinions about him.
The ending seemed a bit rushed once the bandages had been ripped off and the wounds were made fresh all over again. But the healing had begun and I was happy to see the direction that everything was going towards. I would love a sequel to catch up with the sisters to see how they’re doing and if they were able to truly mend fences.