Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Oleander Sisters-Elaine Hussey

The Oleander Sisters
Elaine Hussey
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9780778316435

In 1969 Biloxi, ashamed by having a child out of wedlock, Emily plans to marry Larry so that her illegitimate son Andy has a dad; the biological father Mark died in Viet Nam.  Emily’s “Sis” senses something not right with her sister’s fiancĂ© and distrusts him as a husband and father, but cannot prove her intuitiveness that her sibling is making a big mistake.  As she works hard helping her grandma at the family owned and run Sweet Mama’s CafĂ©, Sis resolutely plans to be there for Emily.

Their brother Jim returns from having served in Nam, but is not the same person he was before his military stint.  Instead he is emotionally damaged suffering from severe battle fatigue.  As always when it comes to her family Sis resolutely helps Jim as he struggles to readjust to being a civilian.  As Hurricane Camille devastates the Gulf, Sis learns family secrets; which leads her to ponder what she wants with her life beyond caring and protecting her beloved kin.

The Oleander Sisters is a reflective historical family drama that focuses on roles in relationships during an era of social upheaval symbolized by Camille storming a person’s self-worth comfort zone.  Character driven especially by the title protagonists, readers will cheer for Sis to become more than just everyone’s protector with a dash in her title and Emily to face difficulty with courage.  Although the storyline goes as expected (except perhaps Andy’s youthful endeavor culminating with a moon pie named for him), this is a magnificent Mississippi tale.

Harriet Klausner

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