Author: Rebecca Wells
Read: July 5, 2014
Summary: Little Altars Everywhere is a national best-seller, a companion to Rebecca Wells' celebrated novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Originally published in 1992, Little Altars introduces Sidda, Vivi, the rest of the spirited Walker clan, and the indomitable Ya-Yas.
Told in alternating voices of Vivi and her husband, Big Shep, along with Sidda, her siblings Little Shep, Lulu, Baylor, and Cheney and Willetta — the black couple who impact the Walkers' lives in ways they never fully comprehend — Little Altars embraces nearly thirty years of life on the plantation in Thorton, Louisiana, where the cloying air of the bayou and a web of family secrets at once shelter, trap and define an utterly original community of souls.
Who can resist such cadences of Sidda Walker and her flamboyant, secretive mother, ViVi? Here the young Sidda — a precocious reader and an eloquent observer of the fault lines that divide her family — leads us on a mischievous adventures at Our Lady of Divine Compassion parochial school and beyond. A Catholic girl of pristine manners, devotion, and provocative ideas, Sidda is the very essence of childhood joy and sorrow.
In a series of luminous reminiscences, we also hear Little Shep's stories of his eccentric grandmother, Lulu's matter-of-fact account of her shoplifting skills, and Baylor's memories of Vivi and her friends, the Ya-Yas.
Beneath the humor and tight-knit bonds of family and friendship lie the undercurrents of alcoholism, abuse, and violence. The overlapping recollections of how the Walkers' charming life uncoils to convey their heart-breaking confusion are oat once unsettling and familiar. Wells creates an unforgettable portrait of the eccentric cast of characters and exposes their poignant and funny attempts to keep reality at arm's length. Through our laughter we feel their inevitable pain, with a glimmer of hope for forgiveness and healing.
An arresting combination of colloquialism, poetry, and grace, Little Altars Everywhere is an insightful, piercing and unflinching evocation of childhood, a loving tribute to the transformative power of faith, and a thoroughly fresh chronicle of a family that is as haunted as it is blessed. goodreads
Review: I saw the Secrets movie way before I read any of these books so I was really looking forward to learning more about the characters and this book definitely provided that. This was a book told from various points of view that was charming at times, unexpectedly dark at others, and completely heartbreaking as well. I enjoyed getting to see the world through these various characters lives and how events that happened to them shaped the way they grew up and how they interacted with their family. Overall, the book was enjoyable but it didn't wow me as expected and really disappointed me at times, which I will get to later.
Title: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Author: Rebecca Wells
Read: July 12, 2014
Summary: When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she's directed, her mother gets described as a "tap-dancing child abuser." Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for. goodreads
Review: Now, this is the book I was looking for which I didn't find in Little Altars. This is the book for the movie I fell in love with and wanted to read to help me connect better with Sidda and Vivi. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed! This has become one of my very favorite books. I loved the way the story was told through memories of different people and the Ya-Ya scrapbook. The friendship the Ya-Ya's have is something to be coveted and admired. The family ties and tangles that are described in this book are common for the time period (as well as often relevant today) and could have happened to anyone. And my absolute favorite part, Wells nailed the complicated relationship between a mother and a daughter. This book tugged on every one of my heartstrings. I hurt with Sidda, I was confused with Connor, and empathized with Vivi. I loved every part of this book!
Now for my comparisons of the books. I'm going to talk candidly about these books as if you have read them, which may open this to a discussion so I'm going to warn now,
SPOILER ALERT!!!!! READ THE BOOK AND COME BACK!
I think all of the characters were relatively consistent throughout the two books with one main exception: Vivi!!!!! In Little Altars (LAE from here on out) , Vivi was made into a monster and even a child molester. WTF?!?!?!?!?! I so wish I had read Ya-Yas (YY from here on out) first, if only to get that image out of my head. Since I didn't, I chose to ignore it as best I could and focus on the Vivi from Ya-Yas who was extremely flawed but still a human who was trying to do her best. I hated her in LAE. She didn't have any redeeming qualities. She was a drunk who traumatized her children and was a poor mother.
That being said, in YY, her flaws were out there in the open and while she made bad parenting decisions and was an alcoholic, it was clear that these were coping skills for the traumas she had growing up and she was always trying to do better. She had great parenting moments, even if they happened few and far between, and she is one of the most loyal people there has ever been. The fact that she can have the relationships she has with the Ya-Yas speaks volumes for her and her ability to connect and show love. And I love that the girls love her despite all of her faults and flaws. I thought this character was so well done and perfectly developed that I become pissed the more I think about how butchered she was in LAE. Supposedly there is a third book that I'm obviously going to have to check out because I need more validation for Vivi.
Please tell me someone has read these books or at least YY, because I need to discuss. Comments, thoughts, feels? Anyone?!?!?!