Friday, April 20, 2018

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Reviewed by Kristin

New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson delivers an origin story worthy of a superhero, as well as a tiny bundle of cells rapidly dividing and multiplying in an epic quest to become that most miraculous of beings: a new human.

Leia Birch Briggs is a graphic novel artist who had a huge success with Violence in Violet, or V in V, a comic which grew out of sketches she began two decades ago.  At first a minor work, V in V exploded in popularity when Leia uploaded a few pages onto her website.  Suddenly a bit of a rock star in the comic world, Leia is offered a deal to write a prequel.  She is struggling to write her character’s beginnings when she has a one night stand at a Comic Con with Batman; or that is, someone cosplaying Batman.

What better than an unplanned pregnancy to throw a knot into the somewhat structured life of a 38-year-old self-employed artist?  And just to add another facet to the situation, Leia is white and Batman is black.

Leia is also blindsided by a call home to Alabama to help Birchie, her grandmother who has suddenly shown signs of dementia—unfortunately in full view of half the town in church one Sunday morning.  In fact, Leia’s phone is blowing up with messages and calls before the pews have emptied.  Birchie needs care, more than her comparably aged African American maid/friend/companion Wattie can provide.

As Leia attempts to care for her grandmother and decide if she will reach out to her Caped Crusader, old bones and racial differences in the Deep South emerge in a way that will change her life and the lives of her family forever.

What I love about Joshilyn Jackson’s books is that they are full of imperfect people who usually manage to find some measure of redemption and grace.  Her characters feel very real: so much like someone who we might know at church, at work, down at the corner market, or maybe even a little closer to home.  Sometimes Jackson’s stories make wild twists and turns but I love being along for the ride.

Jackson puts her heart and soul into each novel she publishes.  The Almost Sisters is even closer to her family than most of the others.  She is a Southerner (with a capital S) through and through, and explores the meaning of family in every thread of her writing.  For a special peek into what Jackson has shared with her readers, check out this article in the Atlanta JournalConstitution.

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