Book Review — Sister One, Two, Three

Unhappiness and secrets always find a way to follow the Tangle family. Even if they try, they can’t have one without the other. Glory Tangle has four children — Ginger, Mimi, Callie and Charlie and only one interest — to act. She might not have achieved the success she dreamed on stage, but instead her life has been nothing, but one big performance. The story focuses on the Tangles, their questionable life choices and unique ways to deal with what comes next. Captured through the eyes of the oldest sister Ginger, the narrative alternates between the past and the present.

Glory Tangle does not want to hear another word of worry coming from Ginger, nor a protest from Mimi. The most she manages to get along with are the youngest — Callie and Charlie, because they’re the less likely to make any demands. Glory doesn’t like arguments unless she’s the one who initiated them. A manipulator of its finest (though she’d call this ‘acting’), she always knows how to make a situation works for her. Nothing can spin her out of her carefully built control and break the concrete walls to her emotions. She shows no significant interest in her children if it has nothing to do with her. Running an errand always has an ulterior motive and ultimately result in her favor. Exercising control is what an emotionally detached Glory masters best.

I’ve tried hard to comprehend the relationship between Ginger and her mother. They are not the same person, yet they share the same trait of controlling the people in their lives. They do it in a different way and in different degrees (Ginger does it, because of her anxious nature for the well-being of others and Glory, because of her own). I feel like this has not been fully addressed in the book. Ginger has been the only one closest to Glory throughout her never ending life performances, yet she has never questioned their dysfunctional relationship with more than a single question. Not even a follow-up? When it comes to her mother, Ginger doesn’t break the pattern of behaving like the thirteen year old girl she once was.

The novel sparked more questions at the end rather than the beginning. It still makes me wonder what was the reasoning behind some of the characters’ actions. Well, I have my guesses and this is what makes the book great for discussions, but it would have made a difference if the big reveal was not left for the very end.

The pace is good throughout and the writing is engaging — it took me a Saturday to finish it in one go! The characters are the heart of the novel. For all the fans of complicated family dynamics, secrets and, of course, quality drama — it will take your weekly concerns away and gives you some good material to ponder on. Afterall, isn’t thinking about the problems of fictional people better than thinking about your own?

Rating: 3.5 stars

I have kindly received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange of a fair review.