By: Mary Carter
Publication Date: 9/27/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars Faith, Hope, and Joy. As children, the Garland sisters seemed to fit together as seamlessly as their names. Banding together helped them survive their free-spirited parents, who moved from place to place and whim to whim, until their father took off for good. But as the girls grew up, they became virtual strangers. This Christmas, they intend to spend the holidays in their usual way: far apart. But their ailing grandmother wants her girls around her once more, and Hope, always the peacemaker, convinces her reluctant sisters to travel to Leavenworth, Washington. Hope is immediately charmed by the unique setting, modeled on a Bavarian village, and by her grandmother's handsome, mysterious neighbor. Still, there's scant trace of celebration within the Garland family. Joy's main motivation for visiting is to secure start-up funds for a coffee shop. Faith, oblivious to her children's unhappiness, is waiting until the holidays are over to announce that her marriage is over and she has a new love. With a festive schedule of candy-cane martinis, hot tubs, and snowball fights, Hope tries to expose and heal old resentments, but moving forward as a family will take more than a little seasonal goodwill.
Against a stunning winter backdrop, Mary Carter brings rare insight to the deep and complicated nature of sisterhood—a bond that endures far beyond childhood, and can always bring us home again.
A special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Mary Carter delivers some magical Christmas spirit with a "non-traditional" family--HOME WITH MY SISTERS —A heartwarming, twisty, quirky, and witty story of secrets, sisters, family, life, relationships, and mystery; with a modern day, “top-secret” holiday twist. Yvette Garland is dying. Cancer. She wants to spend it with her granddaughters. The Garland sisters. Is to too much to ask to enjoy her last days on earth with her three beautiful granddaughters? She has not seen them since they were younger girls. Her only son died around Christmas. (the girls' father). She lost her three grandchildren, too. She has not celebrated a Christmas since. She hates the tradition, but she is dying. It might be her last one. Yvette told her young good looking neighbor, Austin Rhodes her last wish was to find her three granddaughters and bring them to her for one last Christmas. She would like to postpone her death until Easter, but she had no control over such things. The three granddaughters-sisters: Faith, Hope, and Joy.Austin goes in search of the three sisters to bring them to his neighbor for her dying wish. She believes (her son) is reaching out to her. She has to tell them the truth. She only has a photo taken in the middle of the summer even though they had staged the photo with a fake Christmas tree. The girl's mother had taken them away from their father, from her. Her daughter in law had destroyed their lives. The girls thought he was a drunk who abandoned them. Presently Faith is 32, Hope 28, and Joy, 24. She made him a deal. If he would find the girls, there would be no Christmas. No tree, decorations, singing—she would not be spending her last days or weeks mired in a commercial mess. If they follow her rules, she will leave the house to the three of them. What other strings does she have in store for them? To the girl’s surprise, they did not even know they had a paternal grandmother and hopefully she would tell them where to find their father. Faith was the older protective sister, a girly-girl all rolled into one. Hope felt safe around Faith and the baby sister they took care of. The girls were inseparable when they were young. The Three Musketeers. They grew up without their father. Their mother did not like their grandmother. The girls went separate ways when they were older. Faith fled to California at seventeen. Hope had stuck around for Joy. Joy was the wilder one. However, as she got older she resisted Hope’s efforts to mother her. Joy ran off to Seattle the minute she turned eighteen. They stay in touch via social media and Facebook. However, the girl’s father did not leave them as they thought according to their grandmother. He died in a car accident going after his girls, when his wife took off with them to Florida. They never knew. This is what their grandmother tells them. Will Yvette make it to Christmas? Is she telling the girls the truth, or does she have her own agenda? Now the girls are stuck with their grandmother, using the house to force them all together. Granny had rules. So many unanswered questions. The trip brings Mr. Jingles, Christmas hope, cheer, healing, self-discovery, secrets, wit, romance, new friends, family and surprises for the Garland Girls. This could be the "worst and best" of Christmases of their lives. Each sister has their own fears, desires, loves, and losses. The joys of sisterhood: “Older Sister: I make the rules. (Like this one since I am the oldest). Middle Sister: I’m the reason we have rules. Younger Sister: The rules don’t apply to me." Not your everyday Christmas story— similar to a holiday comedy movie with an edgy cast of colorful characters! From mental illness, suicide, racism, and lots of Xanax with flawed characters. It was a joy reading Mary Carter’s Christmas modern holiday novel. She writes funny and quirky mixed with warmhearted characters. I had the privilege of reading one of the author's books several years ago and found it quite entertaining (she has such a wild imagination)! Since I do not read a lot of women’s fiction or romance (more thrillers, mystery, suspense), was not on my radar. However, when I saw this stunning front cover, and the author’s name-- was immediately drawn to it, and was delighted to snag an advanced reading copy! Sisters, bonds, dysfunction, emotions, family, and their complex relationships. (with lots of heart). If you are looking for a "fun" contemporary holiday read (especially if you live in South Florida) like myself, where we live vicariously through winter books with snow-since we have palm trees and sun year-round (of course, I am not complaining). Put this one on your holiday list. Entertaining! If you enjoy Dorothea Benton Frank “West coast instead of East”, you will love Mary Carter’s HOME WITH MY SISTERS.
“Carter’s latest will reach readers’ hearts with its genuine conversations, authentic situations and strong tension. Within a solidly developed plot, Carter expresses the complex relationships between sisters that can be wrought with emotions — both positive and negative. Hope, Faith and Joy are vivid and distinctively individual in character and their interactions authentic. This is an engaging read.”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
About the Author
Mary Carter is a novelist and workshop leader at The Writers Loft in Chicago. Her next novel, London From My Windows, will be released July 31st, 2015.
You can Pre-order it here!
Her other works include: Meet Me in Barcelona, Three Months in Florence, The Things I Do For You, The Pub Across the Pond, My Sister’s Voice, Sunnyside Blues, Accidentally Engaged, and She’ll Take It.In addition to her novels she has written six novellas: Return to Hampton Beach in the anthologized collection Summer Days, A Christmas Carousel in the anthologized collection There’s No Place Like Home, A Kiss Before Midnight in You’re Still the One, A Very Maui Christmas in the New York Times best selling anthology Holiday Magic, and The Honeymoon House in the New York Times best selling anthology Almost Home. Her works have been translated in seven different languages, and several are available as audiobooks.
Readers can keep up with Mary on Facebook—Mary Carter Books, Twitter: @marycarterbooks and here on her website! Mary is currently at work on a murder mystery series set in Ireland which will be published Saint Patrick’s Day of 2016 under the name Carlene O’Connor, and her tenth Mary Carter novel will come out the summer of 2016. Read More