Review: The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown

When they were growing up, Dana, Harper, and Tawny thought of themselves as “sometimes sisters.” They connected only during the summer month they’d all spend at their grandmother’s rustic lakeside resort in north Texas. But secrets started building, and ten years have passed since they’ve all been together—in fact, they’ve rarely spoken, and it broke their grandmother’s heart.

Now she’s gone, leaving Annie’s Place to her granddaughters—twelve cabins, a small house, a café, a convenience store, and a lot of family memories. It’s where Dana, Harper, and Tawny once shared so many good times. They’ve returned, sharing only hidden regrets, a guarded mistrust, and haunting guilt. But now, in this healing summer place, the secrets that once drove them apart could bring them back together—especially when they discover that their grandmother may have been hiding something, too…


What is The Sometimes Sisters about?

This book is about three estranged sisters coming together. United only by their grandmother, each sister has long harbored feelings of guilt, secrets, and resentment towards each other. Dana is the oldest, half sister to the other two since their father never quite accepted her as his child. She and her daughter Brooke were just looking for a new place to live when Grandma Annie passes away, calling the sisters to take over her lakeside rentals. Harper, notorious for her drinking with her sisters, has been struggling with guilt every year since she was sixteen. Disowned by her parents long ago, she’s glad to finally have some closure on what happened by the lake. Tawny, the youngest, has finally been cut off from comfort by her wealthy mother–a neglectful narcissist who pitted her daughters against one another. All four of the girls unburden themselves at the lake, spending their days helping Uncle Zed take care of what Annie left behind.

Genre: Feel Good Fluff

This is the kind of paperback that you take with you on a lakeside vacation and leave in the room for the next bored bookworm. It’s perfectly fluffy, nothing too nuts happens, but there’s just enough going on to keep you invested long enough to read it all in one sitting if you’re so inclined.

Tropes: You get a man! You get a man! EVERYBODY gets a man!

At first glance, this book is about three traumatized young women coming to terms with the things they’ve suffered and moving forward with the love of one another to support them. But it quickly devolved into “a relationship will solve everything.”

Plot: Trauma can be undone by owning property and falling in love

The book does cover quite a bit of time, so it’s not an instantaneous situation. But all of the sisters’ problems are legitimately solved by being left the property of their grandmother’s lakeside rentals, and falling in love while there.

The Good

This book suited a particular reading mood of mine. During the summer, I really enjoy easy to read feel good books that I don’t have to get too invested in and can finish quickly. Think the kind of books you find on the shelves of your rental while on vacation; I love ripping through a quick paperback while on vacation. Despite not actually going anywhere, this book reminded me of that feeling and I appreciated it. That being said, the book itself is meh in quality. I enjoyed the relationship between Annie and Zed, which was pretty interesting to include. The characters themselves weren’t horrible, but Tawny was probably my favorite.

The Okay

I really wish there’d been more of Zed and Annie as their relationship was easily the most interesting. I also found the dramatics of the sisters over the top sometimes. All three of them are harboring secrets, but honestly only Tawny really had something recent. Harper’s secret was sixteen years old, and Dana’s was just a little ridiculous.

The Bad

Two things in particular really stuck out to me: the weird Christian bent to the story, and the way people of color were written. None of the characters are church goers, but there’s definitely some Christian spirituality floating about that was just out of place in a book that’s otherwise religion free. As for the people of color, there are two approaches taken. The first is with Zed, whose race is important to his character. At first, his portrayal was interesting since the beginning of the book makes it clear that he had a romantic relationship with Annie. Zed is Black and Annie was white, and she was married to a white man for most of her life. There’s even an incident in which Annie’s local church kicks her out for having a relationship with Zed once her husband dies. However, Zed ends up just being there to prop up the white women driving the story despite being the most interesting character in the book. The second portrayal comes towards the end with the introduction of a few Native American characters who are described in some fetishistic ways. The characters themselves are fine (despite being introduced so late in the story that they get very little real development) but their descriptions are uncomfortable.

Final Thoughts

This wasn’t a bad book, it wasn’t a great book. It entertained me for a little bit and I did find myself rooting for the happiness of the characters by the end. I think the treatment of the characters of color was a little questionable, but not malicious. The overall message isn’t great–namely that in order to get over literally years and decades of trauma you just need to inherit some property, get along with your siblings, and find a man–but the romances were cute, the characters interacted well together, and the conflicts were pretty low stakes so it was an easy read. If you’re bored and on vacation and you can pick up this book for free, it’s not the worst choice you can make.

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

One reply on “Review: The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown”

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