Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: 'Sisters' by Danielle Steel

Confession: I've always wanted to read a Danielle Steel novel. I grew up with my mom reading them, and I always wanted to seem more grown up and mature by picking up "grown up" books and pretending that I could read and understand them. My mom's Danielle Steel books were no exception, so ever since then, I told myself I need to get around to reading one for real.

I first picked up Sisters over Christmas vacation in 2012, and I wasn't immediately intrigued by anything in the first 70 pages I read, so I decided to move on to something else, but I did want to revisit Sisters eventually. Naturally, I always find myself in a reading slump in the late spring/early summer. Maybe the change in seasons just brings out a craving for a different kind of book than the ones I've been reading all winter. Whatever the reason, I found myself struggling to find a book that I could stand longer than 50 pages (which is one of my biggest pet peeves; having to put down a book because it's boring). Then I noticed Sisters in a box of my mom's old books. I decided, hey, what the hell; why not give it another shot, it's been almost four years and it's not like I had any other books that were calling out to me.

Sisters starts off weak and cliché, there's no doubt about that, so it's no wonder I didn't feel like forging through it the last time I picked it up. Steel's descriptions are just so bland, so commonplace, so ordinary, that the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I knew tragedy was about to hit the characters. The novel follows four sisters who, in very different places in their lives and in the world, find the time to return home to Connecticut for their parents' annual Fourth of July party, but before the party can happen, tragedy strikes that leaves the entire family reeling...and then jumping into action. Honestly, the pictures Steel painted of the four main characters in the beginning of the book were just so bland and so annoyingly perfect that I was actually happy when I realized something bad was going to happen to them, and I like to think it was written that way on purpose (or maybe I'm just a bad person; a discussion for another day). It's very easy to see why so many people on the Internet detested this book. It's no secret that since the 90s, Steel puts out several novels each year and they all basically have the same plot with different characters, but all wind up bestsellers. Her writing style in Sisters is not the best. In fact, it's terrible; it's juvenile and reads as severely underdeveloped, but at the same time, her characters, while really nothing unique, become very interesting and I just kept reading for their sake and their story.

I think that's why I ended up liking Sisters so much: because the characters and the story themselves are really nothing special. We've seen stories like theirs on the screen and in countless other books, but from time to time, when you've been reading stories that actually are unique, it's nice to read a story that can very well happen in the real world; it's just about people and their relationships with each other. Sisters is merely a character-driven and cheesy comedy-drama about four sisters and how much they mean to each other, and I am a sap for that stuff. Several chapters brought to mind The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Boys on the Side. The relationship between the two eldest sisters, Sabrina and Tammy, also really reminded me of the relationship between Sarah (Rachel Griffiths) and Kitty (Calista Flockhart) on Brothers & Sisters. So it's really no mystery why I ended up liking Sisters; if one of your guilty pleasures is watching movies like Mystic Pizza over and over again, you'll probably end up liking it! You'll get used to Steel's bad writing style after awhile, at least I did; I managed to put my all into the characters I fell in love with and ignore the things that bothered me. 4/5 stars.

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