Review by Anissa Telle
The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader
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Two friends. A lifetime of secrets. One sparkling story.
The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader captivates you from the start. It draws the reader into a world of two sisters and the mysterious past of their mother, BettyKay. It opens with a standing room only funeral of a community legend. This funeral becomes more intriguing when a Hollywood megastar, Kitty Devereaux, pays her respects to their mom. As the story unfolds and secrets revealed, it becomes clear that their mom was much more than a small-town Iowa nurse.
The sisters, Clara and Abbie, struggle with their own regrets as their relationship with each other unravels. Forced to confront their difficulties, they come together to learn more about the secret life of their mother that shaped their reality. Fader tells the story in multiple voices and timelines that examine the struggle of women trying to forge their own paths. We learn about the boundaries and expectations in the late 1960s, Hollywood in the early 1970s and beyond, Vietnam, and multiple decades in between up to present day. Fader creates characters so realistic in their trials you can’t help but make connections to your own life.
The compelling journeys through various locations and time periods clearly required impeccable research. The end result is a masterfully told story. The backstory of BettyKay and Kitty provides insights and glimpses into how one’s past irrevocably shapes the present.
While the Sunshine Girls is a wonderful piece of historical fiction, it is also full of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed the practical jokes, and the ways the characters pushed the limits of the standard societal expectations placed on them. The indomitable power of women made stronger by their relationships is the message of this unforgettable book.
I was provided a free advance reader copy from Graydon House Books in exchange for my honest review. The opinions shared in this review are my own.
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