WHAT HAS GREATER IMPACT, the stories we tell ourselves, or the stories others tell us? When the subject is us, which do we believe more? Those are the questions posed, poked, provoked, and provided by the haunting new novel, The Story Sisters, by Alice Hoffman.
Daunting in its seeming inexhaustible supply of ways to present these questions, the book utilizes three sisters to illustrate the many manners in which we tell one another about ourselves. That the tellers of the tales are sisters provides that extra inescapable dynamic of narrative; maybe you could ignore the story you’re hearing were it a mere friend telling it. Make it a sister, and you’re hooked, yes?
Several times I actually put down this book and walked away, too squeamish was I for what was coming (hint: this is a bleak story in parts, and sad), but then would creep back up and sneak in to see what the Story sisters had done next.
From Alice Hoffman, who has a wildly unpredictable history as a writer of being either wonderful or careless, this one falls somewhere in between. Ultimately, I read it all, and will ponder for a good long time just how much more impact it has when the teller of your tale is your sister.