Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Title: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Author: Rebecca Wells
Published: June 2002 (Originally published: January 1996)
Published By: HarperTorch
Format Read: Paperback, Movie Cover Edition
Genre: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Date Read: October 25 2015
Rating: 4/5

At 40-years old Siddalee Walker is a successful director and is engaged to the man of her dreams; a colleague by the name of Conner McGill. Life is well until an article is published about her life that paints her southern belle mother in a less than desirable light. Viviane Abbott Walker is ousted as an abusive alcoholic and by her own daughter none the less. She orders the entire family (including her three best friends) to shun Sidda and made plans to disown her altogether. But are those accusations true? Readers follow along as Sidda remembers the difficult times from her childhood and learns about her mother’s past heartbreaks, with the help of a scrapbook entitled “Divine Secrets” and the three Ya-Ya sisters who played such a formative role in her upbringing. Sidda is taken on a journey of discovery. 

The First Time Around
I first read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood many years ago in my early teens. In fact it may have been one of the first adult genre books I’ve ever read. It must have been the title that caught my eye. Still to this day, it sounds like a glamorous story to be told. However, for some reason I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Thinking back to that time I wonder if maybe the content was a bit too mature for me. For whatever reason it was, I just didn’t give it the attention I now believe it deserved. Considering at that time I had recently moved on from reading middle grade to young adult, perhaps the severity of the subject matter made me feel uncomfortable. 

A Second Go
Now, after all these years later my taste in books have evolved and I have certainly matured, I decided to give Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood another shot. After all the multiple time period, family saga type is right up my alley. Well, as it turns out I enjoyed this book much more the second time around. 

What I Liked  
Beginning in 1993, Sidda brings readers back to her childhood growing up in Thornton Louisiana in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Then via clippings from the scrapbook, Vivi’s memories and the Ya-Ya’s retellings, we are taken back even further to the 1930’s and 1940’s. The descriptions of the clothing and lifestyle were quite captivating. Most specifically when the 4 Ya-Ya’s travelled to Atlanta Georgia for the original premier of Gone With the Wind. Another aspect of this of this story I enjoyed was the special bond Vivi shared with her lifelong friends; Teensy, Niecey and Caro. What woman wouldn’t love to have that kind of support and love? These women stuck together through thick and thin, sorrow and happiness. 

Our two main characters are the barriers that kept me from giving this book a 5 star rating. Truth be told, I wasn’t overly fond of Sidda and Vivi. I understand why Sidda was the way she was. Like her mother she was a product of her harsh up-bringing. Although it was her jealousy of her mother and her relationship to the Ya-Ya’s that left a bad impression upon me. As for “Vivi Dahlin’”, she came across as an entitled brat from the start. She demanded to be in the spotlight constantly, even above her children. But oh was she ever glamorous! 

Worth a Read
Despite not loving Sidda and Vivi, I really did enjoy re-reading Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I would recommend this book to others, especially those who loved The Help.

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