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Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood (Ya Yas #1)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  474,183 Ratings  ·  3,910 Reviews
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
Paperback, 358 pages
Published 1999 by Harper Perennial (first published 1996)
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Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: imperfect mothers and daughters
Recommended to Traci by: almost everyone
When I was pregnant with my oldest child, a girl, I had a dream. In my dream, I was in the hospital, postpartum, holding not the one child I knew that I had been pregnant with . . . but two children. Both girls. One of my baby girls was quiet, observant, peaceful. She had big, open eyes that reflected her big, open heart. The other child was physically larger than the other baby and it's complete opposite. Ugly, angry, needy. I sat there holding both babies in their swaddling clothes while the o ...more
Oct 05, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Rebecca Wells can think up a few succulent stories, but her writing is absolute fast-food. It left me depressed to think that women are encouraged to read so-called "chick lit" on the basis that they only need a few sentimental tales about love, friendship, and/or family to satisfy them, no matter how infantile the writing style or half-baked the arguments.

(view spoiler)
Debbie Petersen
Jul 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People who do not read books but would like to think they read one
Shelves: absolute-drek
I think Vivi WAS a tap-dancing child abuser. Any discussion of this fact ends at the "being whipped with the belt" scene. Vivi had no right to be enraged when this fact comes to light--she should have been embarrassed, yes. Her daughter arguably should not have revealed this dirty laundry but should have worked it through with her mother privately.

According to this book, a scrapbook of silly adventures with Vivi's zany friends makes that behavior forgivable...not an apology or explanation from V
Oct 08, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who thinks Steel Magnolias is the best movie EVER
I am so tired of this sort of storyline. A group of Southern women who form a timeless bond of woman-ness and Southern-ness and triumph in the face of all hardship because they are delicate as blossoms yet strong and fierce.
That said, when entering a genre so well-covered and sticky sweet, one must do something to make one's work stand out. I believe Rebecca Wells does an above-average job at this, and her book was a fun and easy read. It was hardly ground-breaking, nor did I find it moving, an
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm having a hard time deciding if I liked this book or not. On the surface, not so much. About 30 pages in, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it through, or if I was going to go insane if I saw the word "Ya-Ya" one more time.

There were some things that I liked about it. Friendship that endures, closer than blood. Knowing there's always someone there in your corner, and they've been there your whole life. Daughters learning that Mom had a life before she became a Mother, and has a separate id
Aug 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub, fiction
When the whole Ya-Ya craze was going on, my book club decided we'd better read it to see what all the fuss was about. In the end, we had to take a vote ("ya-ya" if you liked it; "no-no" if you didn't). I fell into the "no-no" group.
I found it disturbing that hordes of women were flocking to this book that is really about completely dysfunctional families and marriages and a really unhealthy attachment to friends from the past. It made me wonder what's going on with women that this kind of co-de
Jul 05, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ick
Seriously not my cup of tea. Cutsey language, sentimentality run amok, and a deep sense of nostalgia for times that, well, I couldn't possibly feel nostalgic for. I'm not sure how an abusive mother is supposed to be funny or colorful, nor how transferring your disfunction onto you children is to be held up like a badge of honor. Maybe I needed to have crazy parents to understand it.
Dixie Diamond
Dec 29, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: emphatically, NOBODY.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brandy (aka Marsden)
My mother and her Ya-Ya’s were called the sisters of Beta Sigma Phi sorority in Charleston S.C. I grew up on the marshes watching them swing dance, shuck oysters and throwing what always seemed like a never ending festival that celebrated life.

They did community work and supported the local theatre, but mostly they just had a good time. I grew up in the whirlwind of color and laughter that now seems only like a distant dream. Momma passed 18 years ago and I don’t think I will ever be the same.
Jo (Bloomin'Chick)
Oh I loved this book! I had a very complicated relationship with my mother and though a cliche, I could well relate to that aspect of the book! I also love the movie, but I love the book more! (I read it just before the movie came out). I've also battled severe depression and this book (and movie) is near to my heart. Overall, the details, descriptions & relationships are just amazing! Ms. Wells has Lyme disease and has had a horrible past few years, and when I joined the message boards on h ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: daughters who are angerballs when it comes to ther oppressive, wonderful mothers
Much of this book I found really aggravating -- the unthinking privilege of the Ya-Yas, their total narcissism, the constant and tedious drama -- and yet I found myself looking forward to my lunch breaks so I could read it. Despite the foreignness of the situations and location, the class and race, there was still enough of my mother and me in Vivi and Siddalee Walker to make the book resonate with me. In the end, that's what I enjoyed (not quite the right word -- you know what I mean, though) m ...more
Kristy Trauzzi
Dec 10, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NOBODY!!!
Recommended to Kristy by: online book club
Has anyone else read this book and thought it sucked? I was very disappointed in it. I started off excited to read this book and that's where that enthusiasm left me.
To start - Wow religious! There are some books that make me go - hmm you're religious - I get your sense of peace from it. Or I can also read it and go ok you are one of the crazy religious people that are scary. This book was just like STOP TALKING ABOUT RELIGION!!! No one practiced what was preached and so I don't really understan
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
self-pitying, self-destructive characters.
This book may be entertaining for someone who likes gossip so much, because here you can get to know all the juicy events that happened in the youth and life of four women who were best friends and thought they were absolutely amazing and called themselves the Ya-Yas.

So, this story starts when a Petite Ya-Ya, that's how the Ya-Yas called their daughters, (not so petite anymore) let escape in an interview with the New York Times that her mother, the awesome Vivi, used to hit her. Vivi becomes so
Mar 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing better than reading about dysfunctional, alcohlic, crazy families is reading about dysfunctional, alcoholic, crazy Catholic families. Who are Southern.
Every now and then I'll sit down and reread the chapter where Vivi and her friends (fourteen at the time) travel to Atlanta by themselves for the premiere of Gone With the Wind and Vivi ends up throwing a plate at her cousin when he insults one of the maids.
Then there's the time the girls enter a Shirley Temple lookalike contest
Kate Sheehan
If you don't find these women as adorable and outrageous as they find themselves, you are really going to hate this book. And I did.
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book speaks so true to core of what I feel. That core is - being who you REALLY authentically are - and having people in your life who know truly know you. Vivi Walker is a part of me, I think I have a bit of her in me and I identified with her character more than ever. WAnting to be a star, something special and bigger than the small town she grew up in. Always feeling like NO ONE understood her. Life circumstances hit and she remains in that same small town with a group of female friends ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one started a little slow. Had to get used to how they talk.....takes place in Louisiana doncha know. While there was darkness in this read, Rebecca, with her humor was able to make the darkness seem funny. However, I saw the movie and I wish I hadn't. All of the darkness was smack dab in your face. Most of it hit too close to home and my friend and I left the theatre in tears. I mean I was sobbing. The movie just didn't do the book justice. I recommend you read the book and stay away from ...more
Jun 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women who cherish their longtime relationships with best girlfriends.
Grab a girlfriend, drink mint juleps and toast to sisterhood! This book shares all the details of the close relationships girlfriends share.
May 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this book got some harsh reviews! I will agree that the whole southern friendship pact was over the top, but I think that Wells was trying to present a rare friendship and an outlandish character in Viviane. These girls grew up without air conditioning and television; they needed some pretty big distractions just to cope with the heat and the boredom!

My mother in law grew up in Georgia, and remembers some pretty crazy characters from her youth and some wild stories in her own family. Having
Feb 21, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really awful Southern girl shit.
Krista Greer
Disappointed. Overly romanticized. I really wanted to like this book and I gave it 2 stars because it had potential but unfortunate Wells butchered it (and her editor didn't stop it?!) with all the ridiculous descriptions. Pet peeve: I hate being told exactly how a character feels over and over, it takes away any personal interpretation or imagination.
Feb 21, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one. I wouldn't even bookcross this one
I must be a masochist of sorts to have put myself through this book.

The word that constantly came to mind when i read this book was 'contrived'. Everything felt so contrived about this book.

The characters, especially the four primary members of ya-ya. Each had a character that seemed to have been pushed on them, and each of their conversations played out like a badly rehearsed school-play. Very mechanical, and very predictable.

There seemed to be a lot of characters and information in the book
I'm glad this was quite a fast read, because I didn't find it all that enjoyable. I disliked the main characters (from the beginning I thought Vivi was arrogant, selfish, manipulative and someone who finds herself better, more important and more deserving than others, and I found Sidda whiny. I wanted to shake her and tell her to grow up and stop whining and feeling sorry for herself and get over it) and the writing wasn't that good either. It felt like a lot of blablabla, especially the parts i ...more
Aug 19, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
I found this book pretty weird. The child abuse was so lightly dealt with -- and it's still abuse if it only happens once. Physical abuse, even on just one occasion, sticks in your mind. Especially when you're a child and you haven't had that many experiences yet. It's not something to be just... dismissed and so easily forgiven.

That kind of distracted me from the supposedly awesome stuff about this novel.

Also, such melodrama. Cut it out, guys.
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Divine Secrets is spectacular! Definitely pass on my reccommendation! Also, guys, I think you ESPECIALLY need to read this book if you're at all confused about women. It will give you a spectacular insight. Modern classic. Highly reccommended. Also, if you get the opportunity, watch the film. Its incredibly different from the book, but that's how these things go. Still a spectacular movie.
Colleen Scidmore
Sidda is a 40 year old woman who has just put her wedding plans on hold because of 2 things.
1. She had a falling out with her mother due to an article in the NY Times that suggested to the world the Vivi raised Sidda and her siblings with the threats of child beating to keep them in line.
2. She is having a mid life crisis of sorts in where she is having a hard time coming to terms with some of the things that happened in her childhood with respects to Vivi.
Because of these life altering issues
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Love, loss, and forgiveness, with fiercely wordy dialogue and written like a screenplay, as if the author wanted to save time in the adaptation phase. A love letter to Louisiana (which I understand completely), and a missive about how when you hit middle age, you need to realize that you're just not the centre of the universe after all, and you should forgive your mother for being human.
In my 46 years of being female, I have never had drippy, syrupy, girly, bridesmaid relationships anything lik
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read it because of the movie. In this instance, the movie was better. A woman who had a troubled childhood, in this case it was Sandra Bullock, was estranged from her mother. A close friend of her mother's takes her back in time to see why her mother is the way she is. Excellent movie. Pretty good book.

Maybe its because I'm catholic. Maybe its because I had a violent parent growing up. Maybe its because my family is peppered with endearing and frightening alcoholics, but something in me really connected with this little book.

Its by no means perfect, but it does speak to the topic of what's right and/or wrong when raising a child.

For me I was much more interested in Vivi's story, rather than Sidda's. The Vivi sections felt more alive for me, Jack's death, and her abandonment in violent catholi
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Rebecca Wells was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. “I grew up,” she says, “in the fertile world of story-telling, filled with flamboyance, flirting, futility, and fear.” Surrounded by Louisiana raconteurs, a large extended family, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s Parish, Rebecca’s imagination was stimulated at every turn. Early on, she fell in love with thinking up and acting in plays for ...more
More about Rebecca Wells...

Other Books in the Series

Ya Yas (3 books)
  • Little Altars Everywhere
  • Ya Yas in Bloom
“It’s life. You don’t figure it out. You just climb up on the beast and ride.” 210 likes
“I try to believe," she said, "that God doesn't give you more than one little piece of the story at once. You know, the story of your life. Otherwise your heart would crack wider than you could handle. He only cracks it enough so you can still walk, like someone wearing a cast. But you've still got a crack running up your side, big enough for a sapling to grow out of. Only no one sees it. Nobody sees it. Everybody thinks you're one whole piece, and so they treat you maybe not so gentle as they could see that crack.” 144 likes
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