The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Writing: 5 Characters: 4 Story: 5

Quintessentially southern, humorous, and impossible to put down. Also some beautifully articulated messages on the importance of fatherhood both for the children and the fathers themselves. Top recommendation for the pure enjoyment of of the read!

38-year-old Leia Birch is a well-regarded graphic novel artist and self professed “uber-dork”. After an enjoyable comic book convention hook-up with a gorgeous black man in a come-hither Batman cowl and cape, she finds herself pregnant. In the meantime, her 90-year-old grandmother “Birchie” (as in The Last Birch Standing of Birchville, Alabama) appears to be losing her mind in very colorful and public ways. Add in Miss Wattie, Birchie’s lifelong best friend and Rachel, Leia’s “and she knows it” perfect and pretty step-sister, and you have two pairs of “almost sisters” and the potential for a wild ride!

The story is exceptionally well put together, full of real people with giant personalities, and tons of interesting plot twists (that I’m desperately trying to not give away here!). Great writing that just eases you along until you completely forget that you are reading. Tackles racial issues as a seamless part of the story, triggered both by Leia’s awareness of the biracial baby growing within her and the events unfolding in Birchville that allow her to see a different side of the South (I had stepped into the Second South and seen that my South was a luxury I did not know I had,” she observes).

A special treat is the insight into the creative process of a comic book artist. Leia is well known for her graphic novel Violence-in-Violet (V-in-V) – a cult classic that she wrote, penciled, lettered, inked, and colored herself. After many years as a successful artist working for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, etc. she’s been offered a contract to write the prequel to V-in-V. Throughout the book we’re treated to her inspirations, ideas, backtracking, frustration, and glorious epiphanies. I’m not a big comic fan but after reading this I kind of want to turn into one. Really good descriptions of what the art can bring to the story. This is not a typical career for the heroine of a woman’s fiction book!

I enjoyed every inch of this book. It’s light and playful, but has enough meat in it to not be tossed out with the trashy epithet of a “summer read”. Highly recommended.

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