My second book of The Challenge was another joy to read. It’s always difficult for different generations to understand each other. What’s frustrating is when the two people (mother-daughter in the case of Divine Secrets) literally shared each other’s body at one point. It feels like that understanding should come easier. That’s the complexity of mother-daughter relationships that this book explores, to a maddening, heart-wrenching, lovely, exquisite degree. So, without further ado, here is my second selection for my Fifty Book Challenge:
Title: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Author: Rebecca Wells
Page count: 449
The two main characters in this book are Sidda and her mom Vivi. The “present time” in this book is the early 1990s, when Sidda is a middle-aged adult. The title comes from a scrapbook that Vivi lends Sidda, entitled “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” The Ya-Yas are Vivi and her three best girlfriends (Teensy, Caro, and Necie) from childhood.
Divine Secrets takes its reader into the heart of the Louisiana Bayou, brimming with poetic descriptions of what life was like in the Deep South (at least from the perspective of wealthy white people) during the 1930s and 1960s. Usually I have a hard time following a narrative that jumps around from so many different perspectives (Sidda, Vivi, and even some of the other Ya-Yas) and to so many different places in time (Vivi’s childhood of the 1930s, Sidda’s childhood of the 1960s, and everyone’s present-day of the 1990s), but the interconnectedness the author managed to create perfectly represents the story’s main theme: the complicated, messy, divine interconnectedness of a mother and daughter’s relationship.
I struggled to find a favorite passage in this book to share because there were so many! Here is the one I settled on:
“Teensy splashed more of Mr. Whitman’s black-market rum into Vivi’s glass, and a full moon shimmered over Central Louisiana. This was no rinky-dink moon. This was a moon you had to curtsy to. A big, heavy, mysterious, beautiful, bossy moon. The kind you want to serve things to on a platter.”