Friday, September 24, 2010
Review: Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
Title: Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters
Author: Natalie Standiford
Pub. Date: 9.1.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Sisters, Inheritance, Secrets, Rebellion, Family, Love, Grief
Description (from GoodReads):
The Sullivan sisters have a big problem. On Christmas Day their rich and imperious grandmother gathers the family and announces that she will soon die . . .and has cut the entire family out of her will. Since she is the source of almost all their income, this means they will soon be penniless.
Someone in the family has offended her deeply. If that person comes forward with a confession of her (or his) crime, submitted in writing to her lawyer by New Year's Day, she will reinstate the family in her will. Or at least consider it.
And so the confessions begin....
I find it difficult to verbalize just why I adore Natalie Standiford and her novels so much. There's something almost cinematic about them. Her characters are always unique and they seem to sparkle. They catapult themselves off the page and into my imagination so naturally that it's like they belong there. I find that oddly comforting.
I tend to be drawn to love stories and romantic characters, so it's understandable that I particularly liked Norrie's confession. Not only does she fall in love, she blatantly disregards the wishes of her grandmother, the one and only Almighty, to be with her beau. But, even without her role as a star-crossed lover, I'd still identify with Norrie. She's a smart, sensible girl and often makes observations and comments I find myself agreeing with, like: "I had to admit he looked nice. He has very regular features and straight teeth. I'd just read that even, regular features are universally recognized as beautiful. So no matter what I think of Brooks as a person, I'm genetically programmed to find him attractive. I resent that."
I was won over by the straight-talking Jane right from the start of her confession. Jane blogs about her family, primarily Almighty, on the blog myevilfamily.com and her version of family's history is both amusing and relateable. My family is nothing like the Sullivans, yet exactly the same. Despite having a vastly different backgrounds, I can identify with the cynical feelings Jane feels toward her family and her overbearing grandmother, even if the feelings only last during a particularly trying period of time. Every family has a skeleton or two in the closet and issues swept under rug, but sometimes they just won't stay hidden away.
The last confession is Sassy's and it's... interesting. I wasn't quite as taken with this character as I was with Norrie and Jane, so I was happy to find that her section of the novel isn't nearly as substantial as her sisters'. Still, I felt for Sassy. Despite the ridiculousness of her fearful belief that she had committed a horrible crime against her grandmother, especially in light of what she thought she had done, her guilt and fear could not be disputed. I just didn't connect with her character as strongly as the other two sisters.
I loved the entire novel, but I was most taken with Almighty's confession on the last pages. I can't think of a better way Standiford could have finished this novel and I can honestly say I found Almighty's confession the most shocking of all... not only because of it's content, but that Almighty would confess anything, no matter the circumstances.
After reading Standiford's debut, HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, I had high expectations for her sophmore novel, and I was in no way disappointed. Standiford makes the shortlist of novelists I feel comfortable preordering... and that's saying a lot.