There are a lot of iconic families in literature, and you can add the Sullivans to that list. Almighty, otherwise known as Arden Louisa Norris Sullivan Weems Maguire Hightower Beckendorf, is the head of the illustrious Sullivans of Baltimore. She's been married to, well, let's just say several scions of industry. And we learn just two pages into Natalie Standiford's brilliant Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters that she is dying. Her heirs are speechless. But that's just the beginning. Almighty plans to cut her rightful heirs out of her will. One of them (no one is named) has deeply offended Almighty, and she expects that person to come forward with their confessions. The latest generation of the Sullivan family has three teenage daughters, two slightly older sons, and one much younger son, just 6 years old. Everyone in the family thinks it has to be one of the Sullivan sisters. And so the story begins.
Sort of in the way that Carolyn Mackler's Tangled works, readers are privy to each daughter's confession, told in older, from oldest to youngest: Norrie, then Jane, then Sassy. I don't want to ruin the book by uttering their deepest confessions, but let's just say that there's a love story, there's a revenge story, and there's a murder story!
Exquisite writing, snappy dialogue, and brilliantly realized characterizations made this one of my most enjoyable reading experiences so far this year. Brava, Natalie Standiford! Two for two! (I also really loved How to Say Goodbye in Robot, her debut novel from 2009, which I read this year.)
But you'll have to be patient, because the book doesn't hit bookstores and libraries near you until September 2010.
*** Observation: The cover on the ARC I read is completely different, but I hope they are going with the cover I've used in this picture. The ARC cover shows three girls from behind, with notes in their hands, and to me it connoted a lighter, less literary read. This cover reminds me a lot of the cover of E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and I think it more accurately markets the book's contents. Because seriously, do we always need people on the cover of books, especially when they don't look like the characters? ***