The Almost Sisters, Joshilyn Jackson: Book Review

almost sisters joshilyn jackson book reviewWilliam Morrow / Troy Stains
The Almost Sisters Book Cover The Almost Sisters
Joshilyn Jackson
William Morrow
July 11th 2017

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs' weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She's having a baby boy - an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight year-old's life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel's marriage implodes. Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she's been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother's affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she's pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she's got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie's been hiding. Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family's freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.

The Almost Sisters, which is the newest novel written by seasoned author Joshilyn Jackson, chronicles a middle-aged woman’s new beginning as she also confronts the past.

If I could pinpoint one aspect that I really loved about this novel, it would be how spectacularly well-written it was. I was blown away by Jackson’s descriptive, personal, and, most of all, real way of writing. It’s all in the little details that she sprinkled throughout the novel that really captured my attention as a reader. Even though the plot also contributed in this, the writing really did keep me flipping through the pages and not want to have to put the book down. You can’t say that about every book you read.

Jackson created well-developed and realistic characters, and I thought every character brought something compelling to the overall story. The main character, comic artist, and self-declared nerd Leia Birch Briggs is humorous and instantly likable. She’s not perfect, but her flaws make her more endearing and relatable to the reader. Also, even though I knew nothing about the comic book industry and everything that goes into it, I found it fascinating in how Jackson kept incorporating it into the story and how it added to Leia’s personality. It never overwhelms, and I thought that this aspect gave the novel a hearty dose of unique flair.

The story starts off with Leia discovering that she’s unexpectedly pregnant, and the only thing she knows about her baby’s father is that he dressed up as Batman at the comic convention she met him at. Yikes. However, Leia sees how this could be an opportunity to get her chance at being a mother. Unfortunately, her priorities are soon forced to shift when she gets called back to Alabama once she hears the news that her beloved grandmother is struggling with dementia. Between juggling her semi-secret pregnancy, the idea of tracking down the father, watching her perfect step-sister Rachel’s life slowly fall apart, helping her grandmother through a health crisis, and about a dozen other things, Leia has a lot to handle. But handle it she does, even though she might stumble every now and again.

The book also feels very atmospheric and can successfully transport even the most North-bound reader down South. Jackson accurately portrays what life is like a traditional Southern small town. Not only that but our main character Leia also provides thought-provoking commentary on all the good and bad things that are associated with the Deep South, and no topic is seemingly off limits.

Though many components of this book could be written off as “fluff,” the book deals with hard subjects as well. I was actually surprised how quickly this novel could swerve from lightheartedness to addressing something as difficult as racial segregation in the deep South. Somehow, Jackson makes it work, and not every author could pull this off with such grace. These heavier subjects also helped make this book so much more than your typical “beach read,” which I definitely appreciated.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book since it’s not what I typically read. I definitely plan on reading more of Jackson’s great writing in the future.

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Alicia LeBoeuf
the authorAlicia LeBoeuf
Contributing Writer
I'm a college student pursuing an English major and Communication minor. I love everything book-related and I'm a passionate writer.