The Secret of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

28 Feb


When secrets have been buried beneath the veneer of the skin, they fester. Sometimes, those secrets can be held at bay for years, decades even. Sometimes the secrets you hold can eat away at who you are, and what you have become. Usually, they have to come out sooner or later.

The consequences of that release, letting the secrets breathe and have life once more, can be good or bad – but keeping those secrets inside can tear a family apart.

In the incredible book “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” by Rebecca Wells, we meet Siddalee Walker, a middle aged playwright directing her first Broadway play. She is the daughter of Southern Belle Vivi Abbot Walker. Their relationship is rocky at best.

Along for the ride are Vivi’s life long friends: Necie, Caro and Teensy. Decades ago, Vivi, Necie, Caro and Teensie formed a secret sisterhood, the sisterhood of the Ya-Ya’s. They will let no man put them under, and will always listen to the call of the women and Gods that came before them.

Their friendship, forged in the heat of the South and the blood they shared, has stood the test of time. Unfortunately, Vivi’s relationships with her children, especially Sidda, haven’t.When the New York Times interviews Sidda and proclaims her mother to be a tap dancing child abuser, all hell breaks loose. Vivi cuts Siddalee out of her will and proclaims her dead to her, in true Southern fashion.

At a loss as to how to articulate her pain, Sidda decides not to marry her seven-year sweetheart Connor McGill. The Ya-Ya’s step in to Sidda’s aid. They implore Vivi to send Sidda the Divine Secrets, a scrapbook of sorts that chronicles their lives together. Flipping through the large book, Sidda is thrust back in time, to the South in the 1930’s and beyond, and learns what really happened to her mother and her life.

We learn, along with Sidda, about the alcohol, the lost love that died in the war, what really preceded the beating outside of their family home when Vivi finally broke down. Once secrets are released, they have a difficult time staying hidden. And, as is often the case with secrets, once one has found it’s way out to the light, the other secrets are not too far behind.

In “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” Wells has created a tapestry of words, showing us snapshots of one family’s life and a relationship between mother and daughter that is, in the end, strong enough to survive child beatings, abuse, booze, girl scouts, lovers, enemies and the perfect perm.

We are offered a glimpse into the lives of these people, Sidda, Vivi, her husband Shep, and it is often times a harrowing picture, a dark one. It is, however, a story that probably everyone can relate to. For how often have we bemoaned our parents, thought them ill equipped to deal with us, or that they really didn’t love us or want us when it is the other way around? That they don’t know how to show love and affection, that they are unable to, perhaps due to what happened to them as children. Secrets that no child really ever finds out.

“Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” is a wonderful novel filled with humor, honesty and the strength of the human spirit. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?


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