Review: The Moon Sisters

Editorial Review - - Sarah Rachel Egelman

Jazz and Olivia, two sisters who couldn't be more different, wrestle with grief and identity in surprising and complex ways in Therese Walsh's new novel, THE MOON SISTERS. Though the bones of the story may not be entirely original, Walsh works wonders with the themes of sibling rivalry and loss by giving each sister a unique perspective, surrounding them with challenging characters and placing ... Read full review

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In Walsh’s second novel, THE MOON SISTERS (March 2014), she tells the story of two sisters, Olivia and Jazz, who are as different as night and day
. Olivia has synesthesia, a brain anomaly that causes her to experience colorful sensations when seeing certain things. This gives her perception of reality a dreamlike quality. Jazz, on the other hand, is always logical and realistic. These differences between them cause misunderstanding and resentment.
The novel opens in Olivia's voice with a flashback to when the sisters lost their mother to an apparent suicide, an event that forms the basis of the plot. Thereafter, the author continues to tell Olivia and Jazz’s story by using the first person of each sister in alternating chapters, a method that is very effective at giving insight into the family members and conveying background and setting. The sisters reveal their inner selves through retrospective memories, especially of their mother's death, as well as their relationships with each other and certain family members.
The author's best writing is in these early chapters, which contain poignant, and at times poetic, expression. This is how we learn that the mother, very much a magical thinker like her daughter Olivia, had begun writing a fairy tale about a sun fairy captured by an ogre. Although the mother was incapable of finishing her book, she believed that if she made a trip to the magical Cranberry Bog, where will-o'-the-wisps lived, it would give her the inspiration she needed for the ending to her book. But in the end she could not bring herself to go, and so the opportunity was lost.
Out of a desire for closure from the loss of their mother, the sisters travel to Cranberry Glades where they hope to find the ending for their mother’s fairy tale. They encounter serious difficulties along the way, which turn it into a journey of physical and spiritual discovery for both of them.
The author's writing somewhat weakens in this section of the book. It feels hurried as she relates the unfolding events without giving the reader sufficient background. This makes their adventure seem slightly contrived. However, the elements of danger and suspense maintained my attention.
Walsh’s skill again shines as the story comes to conclusion. I cared about the characters and was pulled into their journey of discovery. I gained valuable insights into the importance of family ties and appreciation of one another’s differences. I didn't want this story to end.
I enjoyed THE MOON SISTERS and readily recommend it to all women, especially sisters. The author’s first book, which I have not read, is now on my reading list!

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