The Moon Sisters by Therese Walsh
Release date: 2014 / 336 pages
Synopsis (from Amazon): After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia…is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest…
Review: Part mystery, part heroine’s journey, with an aftertaste of magical realism, The Moon Sisters is mostly a lyrical, lush testament to the complicated alchemy of sisterhood. After Jazz and Olivia lose their mother to what appears to be a suicide (at the very beginning of the novel), they must come to terms with their relationship to their mother and especially with one another. This reckoning involves a physical journey — with charming vagabonds, train hopping guides, and dark and tangled woods — in search of their mother’s elusive “ghost lights” on a bog.
The novel is narrated by alternating the sisters’ voices — Jazz (grounded and severe) and Olivia (dreamy and hopeful) — with their mother’s unsent letters to her long estranged father. In addition, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief divide the novel into five parts, leading the reader to a hope-filled conclusion.
While the plot is interesting and the quirky characters (Olivia suffers from synesthesia and can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights while her love interest is covered in wildly swirling tattoos) are somehow believable, the true strength of this novel is the imagistic writing of 2010 RITA finalist for best first novel Theresa Walsh. Here are just a few examples of Walsh’s poetic descriptions:
“His voice yielded like bread straight from the oven or the ground after a hard rain.”
“I turned and walked away from her, refusing to be shaped like dough according to another person’s appetite.”
“…like the way thunder filled the air with a mustard-gold fog.”
“…They didn’t know that there were others who could smell sights (Papa was fresh-mown grass, the sun was Mama) or taste words (not every word, and not the way regular people taste, either; freckle, like the dots all over Mama’s face, tasted like togetherness)… that others could see sounds (Babka’s voice looked like a tumble of soft flour).”
At times, Jazz’s irritation with her sister is tedious — especially so soon after suddenly losing her mother. But overall The Moon Sisters is enjoyable and original and would appeal to many readers fascinated by the mystery of sisters and the complexity of grief.
Here are other perspectives on this novel:
Monday, March 3rd: Lit and Life
Tuesday, March 4th: Beth Fish Reads – “Today’s Read” guest post
Tuesday, March 4th: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, March 5th: Book-a-licious Mama
Thursday, March 6th: girlichef
Friday, March 7th: Books in the Burbs
Monday, March 10th: Bookchickdi
Tuesday, March 11th: Traveling with T
Wednesday, March 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, March 13th: Book Snob
Friday, March 14th: The Book Barn
Tuesday, March 18th: Fiction Addict
Tuesday, March 18th: 5 Minutes for Moms
Wednesday, March 19th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, March 20th: Bibliotica
Monday, March 24th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Wednesday, March 26th: A Novel Review
Thursday, March 27th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 1st: Suko’s Notebook
Wednesday, April 2nd: A Reader of Fictions
Tuesday, April 8th: Books a la Mode