Twinsets and pearls, secrets and kinship, rituals that hold sisters together in a sacred bond of everlasting trust. Certain chaste images spring to mind when one thinks of sororities. But make no mistake: these women are not braiding each other’s hair and having pillow fights—not by a long shot. What Genevieve Sly Crane has conjured in these pages is a blunt, in your face look behind the closed doors of a house full of contemporary women—and there are no holds barred. These women have issues: self-inflicted, family inflicted, sister-to-sister inflicted—and it is all on the page. At the center of this swirl is Margot: the sister who died in the house, and each chapter is told from the points of view of the women who orbit her death and have their own reactions to it. With a keen sense of character and elegant, observant prose, Crane details the undercurrents of tension in a world where perfection comes at a cost and the best things in life are painful—if not impossible—to acquire: Beauty. A mother’s love. And friendship… or at least the appearance of it. Woven throughout are glimmers of the classical myths that undercut the lives of women in Greek life. After all, the Greek goddesses did cause their fair share of destruction.
I’m not sure there’s a place to start with this review and I very much want to avoid ranting and/or bashing so I’ll start with good and go from there.
The Writing: Genevieve Sly Crane sure knows how to weave a tail, and she pulls all the words together in a rather beautiful way. She hasn’t created a single novel, but shorter individual stories that are connected by the sorority each girl is a member of.
The Characters: Like the writing, the characters are beautifully written, very real girls/women who have very real lives, difficulties, and issues. Every story reveals the portrait of an individual, and though there are a ton of characters, each is very much an individual with her own story to tell. Please note: my assessment in this section is solely related to the author’s skill and ability. As you shall see below, it has nothing to do with the personalities of the characters.
The Characters: For as beautifully written and real as each character is in this book, there is not a single one in the group who is worth rooting for. From the moment this set of stories opens to the very last page I found myself somewhat disgusted by the behavior of every character. Every member of the house has some sort of emotional issue and/or trauma that requires professional help/therapy. Where the issue comes for me is the fact that NOT one of those girls makes any effort to get help and/or seek treatment. In fact, each girl makes a concerted effort to not only hide her issue or continue with it/them in order to impress the other members of the sorority. Finally, there is the fact that most of the girls know about one another’s issues and rather than try to help one another, they find vile ways to encourage the behavior and then delight in their “sisters” pain. There is truly not a single redeeming quality to be found among any of the characters in this book.
The Bottom Line: While I certainly can’t criticize the author’s writing abilities, I do have a huge problem with the characters who live within the covers. With what was perhaps a great sense of naivety, I stuck with this book all the way through to the end with the stupid hope just one character would do something decent and/or good. Had just one good thing come out of this read, I may have had an entirely different opinion. Alas, I was let down and can’t find a way to reasonably recommend this book to any reader.
P.S. Though I was never a sorority girl, I find it very hard to believe there is a sorority on earth as truly awful as the one depicted in this book. Yet again, this may be great naivety, and if they are this bad, may God have mercy on your souls ☹