Title: The Almost Sisters
Author: Joshilyn Jackson
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: July 11, 2017
My Rating: 4/5
With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of Gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.
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 barstool 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.
Synopsis: A dysfunctional Southern family learns secrets about one another.
The main character is Leia Birch Briggs, a 38 year-old white woman from a traditional Southern family. She works as a comic book artist. She’s done the artwork for other’s graphic novels, but she also wrote a popular graphic novel. One that did well enough that she’s under contract to write the origin story for her character. I liked that the main character was a nerd. She loved graphic novels, Wonder Woman, and other nerdy type things.
At the beginning of the novel, Leia finds out she’s pregnant… From a one night stand. At a comic convention. With a guy dressed as Batman. Also, Batman was a black guy. So, not something she’s excited to tell her family. Also, she doesn’t remember the guy’s name or how to contact him.
Shortly after discovering she’s pregnant, Leia is summoned to Alabama to help her grandmother Birchie. With the help of her best friend Wattie, Birchie has been hiding her illness and dementia. However, while at a social event, Birchie acts very unlike herself and her secret is out. After Leia arrives in Birchville, Alabama, she finds out Birchie wasn’t only hiding her illness, but also other, darker secrets.
While dealing with all of this, Leia is also trying to help her stepsister Rachel. Rachel’s marriage is in trouble and Leia wants to help, but usually Rachel’s the one fixing everyone else’s problems. Rachel and her daughter Lavender end up in Birchville with Leia, Birchie, and Wattie.
This novel is humorous, yet deals with difficult topics. I loved the writing. It was an enjoyable read and stayed up late to finish this novel. I haven’t read anything by Joshilyn Jackson before, but now I want to pick up some other books by her.