The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.
Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband Proctor are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.
As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.
My Rating: ★★★★
Oh my goodness! Such trials and tribulations faced by the Butler siblings…particularly the three sisters – Althea, Viola and Lillian. Abandonment, neglect, abuse, eating disorders, OCD, fear, depression, anxiety…these women faced it all and in turn, unwittingly passed that on to the next generation through Althea’s twin daughters, Kim – the ‘troubled child’ and Baby V – mouse-like ‘good girl’.
When Althea and her husband Proctor are sentenced to long prison terms the Butler family implodes; forcing the sisters to come to terms with everything they have faced so far. They must fight their own demons, learn to trust one another again and work together to ‘save’ the girls from their own destructive behaviour.
This book was heartbreakingly relatable in so many ways and yet completely beyond the level of anything I have experienced myself – just a smattering of abandonment; a little bit of abuse/neglect; a teency bit of anorexia/bulimia, a tad of OCD and some fear, anxiety and depression. It brought a little perspective to my own life but also tore my heart in two for these women….and because I’m a mum of a 17 year old daughter, for those girls.
The writing is brilliantly crafted; the characters are raw and the issues are dealt with masterfully; showing true care not to be stereotypical.
A slow and deliberate start, the author takes her time to introduce each of the characters, garnering empathy and understanding of their personal struggles, life choices and the implications of such. Showing how each character relates to one another – the secrets they’ve kept hidden and the distance between them.
Toward the end the story amps up becoming a definite page turner….one that I would highly recommend.