The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells

Just the right amount of heartwarming for a hot summer day.

The leading ladies of the book are Vivi and Sidda; mother and child, having been separated for some time and eventually following their reconciliation. The story takes place both in the now and in the past; when Sidda was a child and her mother young, when Vivi was a child, when they have both grown up, and everything in between. Sidda is a forty year old woman still hanging on to the ghosts of her past, most to do with her relationship with her mother and the place where she grew up. She is sent a scrapbook, Vivi’s belonging, of Vivi’s life and hers, and gets to know the woman that in many ways shaped her, for bad and for good, with a new perspective. As Sidda is leafing through the scrapbook we see pieces of Vivi’s life and her character building into the life of a woman who suffered, who didn’t quite know how to deal with her grief and her despair, how she failed but also how she excelled. What a life and what fabulous friends she made along the way. Vivianne Abbott might be many things but never boring. She was an interesting character to follow, and in many situations I found myself sympathizing with her even when I didn’t agree with her choices or actions. What Sidda came to realize at the end is that Vivi was surely not perfect, but she did do things right too.

The characterization of Vivi was done very well, she was truly fleshed out. Through her memories we see her as a girl, as a teenager, as a young mom and finally as a grown woman. Her character have nuance – bad, good, inbetween, and it’s what made me enjoy this book the most. I personally felt that Sidda, albeit appearing often in her mothers memories, was less developed. Instead of being a protagonist, she worked more as the eyes through which the reader could access Vivi. She wasn’t as much her own person, which could’ve added an interesting opposite to her mother I think.

Aside from the mother and daughter team there are many interesting side characters, but of course the Ya-yas are the most memorable. Each of them have very distinctive characters, their lives and their attitudes are simply delightful to digest. You want to become their friend, to join their little group and to hear them tell their stories full of color and splendor.
Yes, there are perhaps a few overused lines and patterns in the book, some stereotypes that might’ve been left out to take the writing a notch higher. But it is enjoyable and heartwarming nonetheless. Not exactly earthshaking, but gripping and fascinating and simply put, fun. The perfect book for a warm summer day, leaving the real world for a few hours to go on adventures with the Ya-Ya sisterhood.
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