No one does Southern family dysfunction quite like Joshilyn Jackson. Her newest book The Almost Sisters is no exception. She has introduced us to a new family of Southerners with layers of good intentions, questionable judgement, and conflicting emotions. Graphic novelist, Leia Birch Briggs finds herself pregnant as a result of a one-night stand (with a masked man, at that!) Before she can even get a handle on how her life is about to change, she must rush to Alabama, with her precocious tween niece in tow (due to her stepsister’s impending marriage explosion) to care for her grandmother, who, by all local accounts, is out of her ever-loving mind.)
The characters are interesting and believable and the plot is compelling and if that was all there was to this book, I’d still recommend it to all my friends. But what still has me chewing on this novel is the theme of “Two Souths,” an idea that due to our races, experiences, ages, and/or geographical locations, we don’t really live in or experience the same South. That’s a clunky way of wording it, but you get the gist. Maybe the current climate of the country is peppering my view, but I don’t think she’s ever taken racism on as directly as she has in The Almost Sisters. It was an uncomfortable read, at times, for this white Southerner. I came out on the other end of the story, though, with a new understanding of how little I understand of modern-day racial injustices.
This is a book review, not a social or political commentary and I don’t want to tell anyone what to learn from a story, so, I’ll leave it at this: come for the intriguing, flawed, characters (that will probably remind you of someone you know or are kin to), and a “oh no, she did not!” story, but be prepared to leave with a little extra empathy and social awareness.
Don’t be scared. It’s a good thing.
Jackson’s The Almost Sisters is available today!
(This book review is a guest post by B and it’s really appreciated as she did a great job with a book that I just would not have done justice with. Please note we receive an advanced reader’s copy, from the publisher, for review.)