Obligatory Synopsis (via Goodreads)
The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. See, we love each other. We just don’t happen to like each other very much. But the sisters soon discover that everything they’ve been running from-one another, their small hometown, and themselves-might offer more than they ever expected.
I received The Weird Sisters as part of the Cannonball Read 5 Book Exchange in December. I am so glad that I did, because while this book has been on my To Read list since Cannonball Read IV I’m not sure when I would have gotten around to purchasing it for myself (my library system does not seem to have it available). The Weird Sisters is a difficult book to categorize; it’s a tale of family, of how sisters relate to each other, about fighting cancer, about making peace with your past, about relationships. And it’s also a tale woven through with Shakespearean allusions. Oh, and it’s written in the first person plural.
I’ve seen quite a few reviews which gave this book a relatively low rating based on the use of the first person plural and I’ll admit that it initially took some getting used to. The use of the ‘we’ in the overall narration can drag a reader out of the narrative or just generally serve to confuse, until you catch on that its intended to be the omnipotent point of view. But I can understand how this might still turn someone off.
Once you do get the hang of it, the narrative weaves in and out of the points of view of the three Andreas sisters – Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia or Rose, Bean, and Cordy as they are known. In transferring between each the narrative backs up into the collective and more omnipotent points and understandings are imparted to the reader. Once I sunk into the device, I really enjoyed it as it afforded the reader a greater understanding than the sister’s had individually while still relying on what they would know if they were completely and perfectly honest with one another. And, simply, it was something different.
While following a pretty standard plot (three sisters return to the family roost to sort out their issues) I bumped the rating of this book up from a 3 to a 4 because I called at least one of the wrap-ups wrong, and I like to be wrong when it comes to calling a plot trope too early. The other main argument I’ve seen against The Weird Sisters is that it’s a retread of stock characters (Control Freak, Slut, Hippie) in a stock relationship setting (sisters). Which, I’ll give you and that keeps this book firmly in the 4 not 5 range.
So I vote read this, but flip through the first few pages and make sure you like the narration before purchasing.