No shade, but I admit that I originally bought this book from a charity shop, placed it on a shelf and then proceeded to forget about it. It was only as I was visiting my mother after my move to the UK, I had time (lots of it) on my hands and I thought I might as well read it.
The book follows three sisters, growing up on the family ranch, in a rural town of Oyster Shore, on the edge of Washington State, The 1st half of the book sets the tone for the relationship of the sisters and their ranch. You have Winona, the smart, successful, eldest sister, who hates her body and believes because she is overweight, she needs to overcompensate with her intellect and self-loathing. The middle sister, Aurora, the book doesn’t explore her internal dialogue and to be fair, we don’t’ really know much about her- other than she’s the voice of reason and peacemaker between the two sisters, her character is eternally torn between the two. Lastly, we have the youngest sister Vivi Ann, who is beautiful, everything seems to come easily to her, men, her skill with horses and her ability to soothe their dad’s aggression, especially after their mother’s passing. Vivi Ann falls for the new ranch hand, Dallas, a drifter with a very dark past, but they lead a happy life until someone is murdered in their town. Being the outsider, Dallas is accused, sentenced to life in prison and then the major cracks in the family dynamic begin to show as Vivi Ann begins to spiral in her sorrow. As the book begins to reach its conclusion, it then introduces the voice of Noah, Vivi Ann & Dallas’ 16-year-old son. The book explores the jealousy between the sisters, the power of holding onto a grudge and ultimately, forgiveness and family.
Break it Down:
While the book spans over a period of about 20 years, it interchanges between the inner dialogue of the youngest sister, Vivi Ann and the eldest sister, Winona. It then eventually adds Vivi Ann’s son, Noah’s inner dialogue towards the end of the book. For all of their lives, Vivi Ann and Winona have been at odds, because Winona, craves her father’s love and acceptance and Vivi Ann has it in abundance. It was a really good, honest and realistic read, just reading about the internal struggle we all go through, but also project on to others. The sisters are so different but despite their opposing viewpoints, they still come together in times of needs, but Winona’s dislike for Dallas comes between the sisters in her refusal to accept him into the family and then her refusal to be his lawyer when he is accused of murder. I will admit that I didn’t like the fact that Aurora is basically non-existent in the book, in terms of her internal dialogue and knowing about her life, she is basically forgotten in the book, much like her role in the family. I don’t know if this was intentional with the author or if it’s because she had more of a storyline with Winona & Vivi Ann, but I found myself wanting to know how Aurora really felt about certain events in the book. I will also admit that I didn’t expect the plot twist of Dallas ending up in jail, for whatever reason, I took the book to be superficial and expected it to have the cookie cutter happy ending. But, I wasn’t disappointed it was more realistic and I will also admit that I very much detested Winona’s character, I sympathized with her when seeking her father’s approval, but I couldn’t relate to her inability to put aside her personal feelings, in order to be there for her sisters, as much as she professed to be the “protector” of the family, she was so far from that and in some ways extremely selfish. So, I applaud the author for achieving in making the character boil my blood😅!
If I were to pick one thing that I didn’t like about the book, it would be the fact that it could have explored on a deeper level the issue of racism and racial profiling for Dallas’ character. I felt like the author chose to keep his character development “vague” to the reader, in order to play on the fact that you couldn’t be quite sure if he was the culpable or not. She specifies that he has scars on his body and is emotionally closed off, but begins to soften under Vivi Ann’s love for him, the author also clearly specifies that Dallas is of Native American descent, thus setting the premise for him being an outsider in this small town and ultimately wrongly accused. I felt like the subject of racism, especially on the part of Winona, could have been shown from Dallas’ point of view, but I guess the author’s focus was on the feelings and inner turmoil of the main Grey sisters.
The RnR Rating:
4 out of 5, I finished this book in a handful of days, it was a captivating, shocking, tearful and an honest read. I loved the fact that despite their differences, at the end of it all, they recognised the importance of family and coming together as a unit, in spite of all that life throws at us. Maybe it’s the sentimental in me, but I just love the idea of coming together at the end of the book.
Would I recommend the book?:
Have you picked this book up? What are your thoughts and feelings about it? Let us know! Do you have any recommendations?