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.