Friday, October 31, 2014

The Hurricane Sisters

Title:  The Hurricane Sisters
Author:  Dorothea Benton Frank
Publication Information:  William Morrow. 2014. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0062132520 / 978-0062132529

Book Source:  I read this book based on the description and the cover.

Favorite Quote:  "If I have learned anything about raising children, its that keeping the conversation going is so very important. Once you stop talking to each other terrible things can happen."

The Hurricane Sisters is a very quick read that starts off as the story of a somewhat normally dysfunctional family and ends up somewhere completely different. It tells the story of three generations of women.

Maisie is the eccentric matriarch, living live on her own terms with the insight that comes with age. She has learned to live with the death of her child and is choosing joy and life. Her character and escapades - involving a boyfriend and a llama farm - add a touch of humor to this book.

Liz is the middle aged wife and mother. She has always felt the burden of her sister's death and living up to who and what her sister would have been. She is at a crossroads, wondering when life and her marriage lost its joy. "I wondered then for a moment or two which came first? Him not caring or me being sad?" Liz finds her solace in her work with abused women.

Ashley is twenty-something, with big dreams of career and success through her art. At the moment, she is living in her parent's beach house and still struggling to make ends meet. She, with her brother Ivy's support and her roommate's help, comes up with some pretty creative ideas to supplement her income. She is also on the cusp of what she feels may be the relationship around which to build her life. Her adventures bring her close to trouble with the authorities and worse.

As with any family, the strong bond and the discord between mothers and daughters exist. The need for approval. The need for control. The love. "Love is the most important things there is ... Love, family ... these are the things that matter; the things to cherish."

The cover and the description of the book suggest a family saga and a light, beach-y read. However, this book quickly gets to its much more serious agenda - to raise awareness about domestic violence, particularly in South Carolina.

The afterward of the book has notes on domestic violence and a link to My Sister's House. This is an South Carolina organization providing support to domestic abuse victims. According to their website, South Carolina ranked number one in the country in terms of female victims killed by male perpetrators in 2011! Domestic violence is a crime that occurs too frequently, annually resulting in about 1,200 deaths and almost 3 million injuries. That is just the reported cases. Estimates suggest that for every reported case, about 10-30 go unreported. I appreciate the author's effort to raise awareness for this serious issue.

The message of the book clearly overtakes the story in the book. The characters are hastily drawn as is the plot. Some descriptions mimic social and ethnic stereotypes, which is unfortunate. Dorothea Benton Frank is well known for her beautiful Low Country settings and atmosphere; this book does not really reflect that. Other than the statistics, this book could have been set anywhere. The link between the "hurricane sisters" and the rest of the book really is never fully developed. The exploration of that story and its impact would have added more substance to the book.

Three stars primarily for the message and awareness it brings.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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