Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Moon Sisters

Title: The Moon Sisters
Author:  Therese Walsh
Publication Information:  Crown Publishers, Crown Publishing Group, Random House Inc. 2014. 320 pages.
ISBN: 0307461602 / 978-0307461605

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review. The book arrived as a paperback uncorrected proof.

Favorite Quote:  "People give a lot of fancy reasons for the things they do, but I've found it always comes downs to one of two things ... They're getting something for doing it, or they're avoiding something by doing it. Pleasure, or pain."

The Moon Sisters is story a about siblings - the love and the hate and the rivalry between siblings. It is also a story about the parent-child relationship - how that can impact a person their whole lives through and how that can be completely different for two siblings.

Olivia and Jazz Moon are two sisters living in a small rural town. Their mother has passed away. The question of whether it was a suicide or an accident is something they both deal with in their own way.

Jazz is the older one, the practical one, and the one who feels that she never had her mother's love.

Olivia is the younger one and the one who had the close bond with her mother. She suffers from synesthesia, a neurological condition in which stimuli to one sense trigger a response through the other senses. Olivia has the "ability to taste words and see sounds and smell a person on the sun."

A third piece of the story is Beth, Jazz and Olivia's mother. Her story is revealed through the eyes of her daughters and through a stack of letters that Jazz finds hidden in her mother's room. Letters that Beth writes her estranged father.

This is also the story of a journey - a physical one and an emotional one. Beth was a writer and told Olivia stories of the bogs and the ghosts and the lights. After her death, the nearly blind Olivia decides to take the trip to the bog for her mother. Jazz is forced to go along to protect and care for her. Along the way, the encounter and travel with train hoppers - people illegally hopping on board freight trains and living a traveling lifestyle.

The books tells the story in the alternating voices of Jazz and Olivia interspersed with Beth's letters. The book begins strongly, slowly building the characters and slowly revealing the relationships between them. The alternating narrators work in this book because the readers does get to see both perspectives and feel both their emotions.

By the middle of the book, however, it really slows down and seems a little repetitive in the emotions it conveys. Jazz had an unhappy relationship with her mother; Olivia was close to her mother. Jazz is practical and sensible; Olivia is impulsive. The characters surrounding them are caring but gruff and with their own secrets.

Toward the end, the book does bring the characters and all the emotions to a closing - not an unexpected one but satisfying nevertheless. So good to begin, a little slow in the middle, and a satisfying ending.

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