The Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay
By Beverly Jensen
Viking, 2010. 307 pgs. Fiction
Idella and Avis are sisters growing up on the harsh Canadian east coast in a little fishing and farming community. Left motherless at a young age, their father attempts to raise them with only mild success due to his uncontrolled temper and unconsoled grief over his wife’s death. Eventually the girls escape to New England and attempt to establish better lives for themselves and their families.
I should not have been surprised that a book Stephen King said “roars from hilarity” would involve someone randomly shooting themselves in the head, but for some reason I still was. Despite what I think was meant to be an overall theme of hope and love amongst family, this book completely depressed me. All the yelling and swearing and drinking tempted me to nominate the Hillock family as one of the most dysfunctional in literature. In all fairness, I did laugh out loud several times and the writing kept the story flowing with some really beautiful language, but there wasn’t a single character in this story I would want to meet in real life and I’d have a hard time recommending this novel to anyone.