Divine secrets of the yaya sisterhood
Siddalee Walker is a 40-year-old, successful theatre director on the brink of getting married to Mr Right. She’s also spent years in therapy trying to figure out and get over her fractured relationship with her mother. Essentially this book is supposed to be about the dysfunctional bond between mother and daughter, but don’t let this overwhelmingly American-sounding psycho-jargon put you off. Sidda is a crashing, whingeing, self-analysing bore but the glittering stars of the book are the Ya Yas – Sidda’s mum Vivi and her small but perfectly mooky band of girl chums – Caro, Teensie and Niecie.
The book is set in Louisiana in the Deep South, and spans 50 year’s worth of the fabulous friendship of the mad, bad, dangerous and downright hysterical Ya Yas.
I was touched and inspired by the graphic and very funny portrait of this close band of women who start off as best buddies at around 4 years age and grow up together, have children together, go through the hoops of breakdowns, break-ups, alcoholism and bereavement and still stay strong to each other. They come across as the most amazingly spunky, life embracing, ‘don’t give a damn’ bunch one could hope to imagine. From this perspective it is a heart warming tale of perfect, enduring friendship and made me quite envious and whistful for a Ya Ya Sisterhood of my own.
The ‘Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood’ is a collection of cuttings, photos and momentoes kept in a scrapbook kept over the years by the Ya Yas and recalls many of their adventures both hilarious and tragic. There was the breaking of the no-booze rule, skinny dipping their way into jail, and disrupting the Shirley Temple lookalike contest, to name but a few incidents. This scrapbook is sent to Sidda by her mother, after a prolonged and painful split, to help to make sense of all the disjointed fragments that make up her understanding of their relationship.
The narrator presents the situations from both mother and daughter’s perspectives, so the reader empathises with both and sees either side of the coin. Other reviewers (probably American) have warned, ‘don’t go there if you can’t handle the pain’, which I found a bit strange. On the whole, the book was very funny and well written. The ‘painful’ bits were worked through. In fact, I finished reading the book wanting to phone my mum straight away and feeling far more appreciative of her than I had done for a long time. Definitely a book every daughter should read. I just wonder what my mum would make of it?