Canadian sisters clash and cling.
Raised by hippie parents in a small farm town, Peachy and Beth Archer learn about grief at a young age when they discover their mother’s suicide note and lifeless body. Beth, the older sister, uses alcohol, sex and drugs to ease her pain. She flees Canada for the opportunity to reinvent herself as a stylist in New York City, where financial and career success come easy, but her love life is a train wreck and drama a constant companion. Peachy in turn transforms herself into the mother she always wanted, stable and dependable. She marries one of Beth’s castoffs and becomes a stay-at-home mom to two boys. Caretaker of the family homestead, she grows tethered to the farm and lets die her dream of becoming a social worker. Phone calls and Beth’s periodic Canadian sojourns keep the sisters intimate. Peachy serves as Beth’s moral compass while simultaneously envying her escapades. Their relationship crumbles when Beth returns home with the intention of bringing Peachy to New York City for a bit of culture. The night before the trip, Beth takes her wild behavior too far, and this time her sister won’t pick up the pieces. Peachy heads to NYC alone, leaving Beth to clean up her own mess. Humbled, Beth frantically tries to make things right as Peachy revels in her freedom. Gabriele (Tempting Faith DiNapoli, 2002, etc.) is unrivaled at conveying the messy side of motherhood: Peachy writes of “the constant laundry of my life, the sweat socks and skid marks and pee of my boys and men.” She’s a welcome new member to the short list of authors with the power to fully inhabit her characters (think Bobbie Ann Mason or Jane Smiley), leaving the chick-lit purveyors in the dust.
A richly crafted tale of redemption and reinvention that stands out from the crowd.