I finally got around to reading the first of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood series. I’ve had this book on my TBR list for about three months now, and I was dragging my feet about reading it. But once I started reading, I had a hard time putting it down.
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Little Altars Everywhere follows the life of the Walker family and the lives around them There’s Vivi Abbott Walker, the mother and a cornerstone of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and then there’s Big Shep Walker, the farmer father. These two have four children (well, five counting an infant son that died four days after he was born)- Siddalee, Little Shep, Baylor, and Lulu. Each one has their own stories to tell, and every story is brutally honest. Each character has their own growing pains, vices, and struggles, and holds nothing back from the reader when discussing them.
Vivi talks about her glory Ya Ya days, of when she was popular and fun, a wannabe actress in New York, a walking party. Then, when she became a mother, things changed. She made sacrifices. She loved her children, but she loved herself more. And drinking more. And before the kids are even old enough to understand what she was happening, she turned into a violent and abusive woman, trying to fight her inner demons brought out by alcoholism.
Big Shep, used to the torrid actions of his wife, tried to provide for his family- be the family man, without having the time to actually be with the family. More often than not, when he was with his wife, they were arguing, making up, and then arguing again. And when things got to be too much, he would run away to duck camp, and hide out. He wanted to do right, but he didn’t have the stomach- and in other ways, the clout- to do it.
The four kids are pretty much left to their own devices, and nurtured as much as possible by Willetta, their housemaid. As they grow into adults, they reflect on their childhoods and the way their parents influenced their adolescence and adulthood.
I absolutely adored this book, even with the heartbreaking issues caused and brought about by Vivi’s alcoholism. I love the voices that Wells has given her characters- each sassy, blunt, honest, witty… reading the book was like sitting in a room, listening to your family bickering. The sarcasm that flies, I tell ya! I’m really looking forward to reading the next in the series- the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood – and getting to learn more about the four Ya Yas. If you haven’t read this book, I give it two thumbs up, and suggest you at least watch the movie that the book inspired!