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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 87 | September 21 , 2008|


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Book Review

Secrets of the Ya-Ya sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

Sameeha Suraiya

MIX the charm of the Old South bestsellers, from Gone with the Wind on, add a dash of secret sisterhoods, family sagas of love, loss and forgiveness, and there you have it' The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood' by Rebecca Wells, a story that can be cherished as a truly unforgettable and unique experience, just like the Ya-Yas themselves.

Wells has written two novels this one and its companion book, Little Altars Everywhere, both of which made the New York Times Bestseller List. And it's obvious to see why. From the very first page, Wells draws the reader into a different world, a world of the past and present combined to create a history of one woman and her very dear friends. At the core of the tale lies the merging of the generationsthe growth of understanding between mothers and daughters, the painful discoveries and the inevitable, but the most testing human experience forgiveness that shines through at the end, lending the story with a strong sense of positivity.

The novel, having been received extremely well, has a cult following and is sure to stay with you for a long long time. It would be quite wrong to quickly label this novel as 'chick lit', because ultimately it is about undying friendships, something I'm sure, we all treasure and wish for.

The novel kicks off with Sidda Walker, a successful theatre producer living in New York, suddenly finding her comfortable life hanging by a thread after she spills the beans to a New York Times reporter about her Louisiana upbringing, more specifically her mother, Vivi Walker, one of the Ya-Yas. Vivi is enraged and has cut her off her will. Old wounds open up as memories of the complex relationship between the mother and daughter resurface. Sidda, eager for reconciliation, postpones her marriage and heads to the solitude of a cabin in the Northwestern woods, to reflect on her life and her apparent dilemma of not knowing how to love. That is when the Ya-Yas, Vivi's intrepid tribe of Louisiana girlfriends sashay in, to help smoothen out the cracks like they always do, bound together as they are in an astonishing and inspiring circle of loyalty and friendshipthe Ya-Ya Sisterhood. They urge Vivi to send Sidda the Ya-Ya Sisterhood's parcel of “Divine Secrets”, the scrapbook that bears testimony to it all. It chronicles the sisterhood in pictures, letters and mementoes. Sidda submerges herself in the wild, wondrous and wicked world of the Ya-Yas as she reads through half-a-century's worth of letters and clippings contained inside.

The writing becomes fragmented, switching from character to character and time period to time period. The scrapbook becomes a lens to the story of the lives of the Ya-Ya girls, which essentially culminates in Sidda's self-discovery, as she traces each of the Ya-Yas, the women she had known since she was born, and coming into final understanding of each of them. With each turning of the page in the scrapbook, the reader is given the images of sensual Louisiana life, the cotton fields and the willows, almost listening to the Ya-Yas' slow southern voices. The reader will be left hungry to know more about these fascinating women, just like Sidda as she sifts through the pages of Divine Secrets, struggling to piece together enough of the truth, all that had happened all those years ago.

The youthful Ya-Yas are selfish and self-centered in the best spoiled Southern belle tradition, products of a time that is no more. They are quirky and silly and will make you laugh out loud. They are always together, holding each other in their youthful adventures and in their tragedies.

Rebecca Wells writes in a language that is exquisite; sometimes it is so smooth it flows like poetry. Each page is awash with laughter and tears. There are many resonant chords to be felt that moves you to the very core. It is one of those books that crack you open to more love. The magic of the lifelong Ya-Ya friendship is almost enviable and you will very soon find yourself running up to your friends, insisting to lend your copy! So there you have it, this one just cannot be missed!

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