Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.
It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.
Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.
My Thoughts: The first person voice of Leia Birch Briggs brings the reader into The Almost Sisters, the story of a young woman with a unique perspective on life; a woman who, as a girl, was often overshadowed by her stepsister Rachel, the blond pretty one. Rachel, who has a picture perfect life, but who is so determined to hold onto what is hers that she bit Leia when they were toddlers for calling Keith, Rachel’s father, “daddy.”
A girl like Leia has to carve out her own unique world and stand proud when others do not understand her. Even with Leia’s success, Rachel condescends and refers to her work as “your drawings.”
So when Rachel starts having marital problems, I wanted to smirk a little.
Meanwhile, in Birchville, Leia’s grandmother Birchie is going through some medical issues, so Leia, newly pregnant, and not having told anyone about her situation, drives to the rescue.
A lovely story that captivated me from the very beginning, I wanted to root for them all, even Rachel, eventually. The flavor of the South drew me in, as each character revealed his or her unique Southern charm…and sometimes meanness.
I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to them all. Would Leia and her baby daddy reconnect? Would Rachel soften up her hard, mean shell? And how would Birchie’s secret change their lives? 5 stars.***