The Book Sisters

Fiction - Literary
206 Pages
Reviewed on (not set)
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Author Biography

Hope Andersen is a graduate of Wellesley College (B.A) and Yale Divinity School (M.A.R.). She wrote her first novel at the age of 60. In her early career as a writer, she studied fiction writing with Andre Dubus and poetry with Derek Walcott, and published both stories and poems. She was awarded the Wellesley College Playwriting Award for her one-act play Room, which was produced at the Lyric Stage, Boston. Ms. Andersen served as a teaching assistant for George Garrett at the Stone Coast Writer’s Conference in Maine. She has worked intermittently over the years as a newspaper critic, a ghostwriter, an editor, a teacher, and a screenwriter. A native New Englander, she now lives in North Carolina with her husband Thom. They have three grown children, two dogs, a cat and a fish. She is currently at work on a young adult novel titled An Accidental Thief.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers' Favorite

The Book Sisters by Hope Andersen tells the story of the Book family, husband and wife Vern and Valley, and their six daughters. Set in the wilds of Iowa during a period of unrest in the world around them, and having experienced horrors in the war that he cannot discuss, Vern and his wife settle down to an idealistic quiet lifestyle, growing corn and keeping a few animals. As their children start to arrive, their peaceful world becomes one of turmoil as each girl brings a different personality and a different view on their once gentle and peaceful life. The family tries to adjust to the varying characters of the girls, but after a tragedy that affects them all in different ways, Vern and Valley eventually succumb to the comfort of liquor, and their world crumbles around them. The girls each go their separate ways, some trying to leave their childhood behind, whilst others are reluctant to let go.

Hope Andersen has written a captivating family saga that manages to define each complicated character whilst at the same time painting a picture of a wild and dramatic, and sometimes cruel, landscape with a little farm struggling to survive in its midst. Although having eight complex characters in play, the writing approach enables the reader to follow the family trials and to empathise with Vern and Valley as they endeavour to keep their family together. Strong characters, excellent writing, and a fast pace combine to make this an exceptional read and certainly one to recommend.

Lisa McCombs

When Vera, the fourth oldest of the Book sisters, asks her mother for a lemonade stand, the charm of Hope Andersen’s tale, The Book Sisters, is planted. Vera, Virginia, Viveca, Victoria, Violet, and Veronica are the six daughters of Vern and Valley Book and members of a picture-perfect family. The all-American dream, the loving family which Norman Rockwell depicts in his famous images of Americana. But, as in all dreamscapes, reality settles its harsh blanket over the family with the historical events of racism, Viet Nam, political turmoil, and international devastation. As time reveals the dark secrets of this once-upon-a-time family, the Book sisters find themselves caught in a parallel universe of unrest. As each sister fights her way to the surface of dark conflicts within her own existence, we see the travesties faced by even the most picture-perfect family.

This superbly crafted tale enfolds the reader in a safe place that is as abruptly erased with the realities of death and abusive behavior so easily wrought in society. Hope Andersen has mastered the art of storytelling in The Book Sisters. For readers familiar with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, a return to that special era in life will be revisited for a short time while Andersen entertains vestiges of this simpler time before significant events ravaged our nation’s innocence. The Book Sisters is a remarkable read. Fast moving and engaging from the first paragraph. Hope Anderson satisfies her reader with an expertly written story that ends with a wonderfully balanced conclusion.