Sara's Reviews > The Story Sisters

The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
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Jun 16, 09

bookshelves: female-authors, fiction
Read in June, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Just a note: I really want to give this two and a half stars, but Goodreads won't let me do that.

This novel tells the story of three sisters, Claire, Meg and Elv. Led by Elv, the oldest, they invent their own language, and stories of a magical underground world that only they can enter. As children and young adolescents, the girls are secretive and insular, and the two younger sisters, Claire and Meg, are fascinated, envious and adoring of beautiful Elv, as are all of her classmates. Elv's fairy tale inventions were borne largely out of a traumatic event shared by Claire and Elv as young girls, when a local schoolteacher attempted to abduct Claire. Elv had pursued his car, begging to be let in, until the teacher stopped the car and she was able to signal Claire to run as he pulled Elv into the vehicle. Claire was saved, but Elv was abused before she was able to escape from the teacher's house. The fairy tale world and secret, bird-like language became a way for Elv to feel powerful and separated from the human world in which such terrible things could happen.

The remainder of the novel follows the sisters and their single mother as Elv becomes increasingly troubled and frightening. The loyalties between the three girls are in constant flux, and their mother struggles to save Elv from herself without pushing her away entirely.

This novel had a lot of promise, and some really wonderful moments. The fairy tale motif didn't become too cute, which I appreciated, and because it apppeared again and again it gave the author a lot of room for moments of magical realism within the plot. There were definitely plot points that didn't ring true, though. The family experiences one failure and tragedy after another, to such an extent that it becomes a little hard to swallow. There are also events in the book that seem sudden and out of place, and you can almost feel where the author made a decision that something needed to happen to move things forward, making it feel less natural.

Overall, though certainly dark at many points, it was an entertaining and fast read, and filled my general desire to read semi-magical stories in Summer.
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message 1: by Gloria (last edited Sep 16, 2009 09:28PM) (new)

Gloria Bernal Well at least you stayed with it. I couldn't, even as much as I like Alice Hoffman. Albeit, fantasy/fairy tales aren't my cup of tea but I had hoped she would reel me in anyway. Alas, it didn't happen for me. I only read a third of it and 2 star is generous.


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