Raise our voices in words of Mumbo Gumbo: Ya-Ya!!


Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood A Novel By Rebecca Wells

“Rebecca Wells’s new novel is a big, blowzy romp through the rainbow eccentricities of three generations of crazy bayou debutantes trying to survive marriage, motherhood and pain, relying always on their love for each other. It is a novel of wide reach and lots of colors: fun in a breathless sort of way. Vivi is one of the best characters in any novel you’ll read this summer.” -Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Plot Summary:  Sidda is a girl again in the hot heart of Louisiana, the bayou world of Catholic saints and voodoo queens.  She walks barefoot into the humid night, moonlight on her freckled shoulders.  Near a huge, live oak tree on the edge of her father’s cotton fields, Sidda looks up into the sky.  In the crook of the crescent moon sits the Holy Lady, with strong muscles and a merciful heart.  She kicks her splendid legs like the moon is her swing and the sky, her front porch.  She waves down at Sidda like she has just spotted an old buddy.  Sidda stands in the moonlight and lets the Blessed Mother love every hair on her six-year-old head.  Tenderness flows down from the moon and up from the earth.  For one fleeting, luminous moment, Sidda Walker knows there has never been a time she has not been loved.  When Siddalee and Vivi Walker, an utterly original mother-daughter team, get into a savage fight over a New York Times article that refers to Vivi as a “tap-dancing child abuser,” the fall-out is felt from Louisiana to New York to Seattle. Siddalee, a successful theatre director with a huge hit on her hands, panics and postpones her upcoming wedding to her lover and friend Connor McGill.   But Vivi’s intrepid gang of life-long girlfriends, the Ya-Yas, sashay in and conspire to bring everyone back together.

In 1932, Vivi and the Ya-Yas were disqualified from a Shirley Temple Look-Alike Contest for unladylike behavior.  Sixty years later, they’re “bucking seventy,” and still making waves.  They persuade Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of girlhood mementos entitled “The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.”  Sidda retreats to a cabin on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, tormented by fear and uncertainty about the future, and intent on discovering a key to the tangle of anger and tenderness she feels toward her mother.  But the album reveals more questions than answers, and leads Sidda to encounter the unknowable mystery of life and the legacy of imperfect love.  With passion and a rare gift of language, Rebecca Wells moves from present to past, unraveling Vivi’s life, her enduring friendships with the Ya-Yas, and the reverberations on Siddalee.  The collective power of the Ya-Yas, each of them totally individual and authentic, permeates this story of a tribe of Louisiana wild women impossible to tame.

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