Raise your hand if you have a crazy family. No, not the “OMG my Mom drives me bonkers” kind of crazy; I’m talking the about your family is so ridiculous they’re practically caricatures of real people. Yeah, that’s a large contingency of my own kin, so when my sister (crazy in her own right) hands me a book about a grandmother who is called Almighty, brothers named St. John, Sully and Takey, and the parents are known as Daddy-O and Ginger respectively, I knew I had to give this a shot.
Natalie Standiford’s Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters more or less defines what I lovingly refer to as a bat #$% crazy family. The premise is simple- Almighty Lou calls the Sullivan family to her home on Christmas and announces she’s about to die and she’s cutting them out of her will because one of them has offended her. Now since Almighty owns most of Baltimore and the Sullivans’ live predominantly at her behest, the threat of her vast fortune going to a Dog Poncho charity is quite the threat. Fortunately, not all is lost and the Sullivan clan can make it up to her if they confess their sins to her and are sufficiently contrite by New Years Day. All of this occurs within the first four pages, and I literally sat in a restaurant reading this aloud to my mother and sister because it hit so close to home. Seriously, if your family rides the crazy train, pick this book up.
What follows are the confessions of the three Sullivan sisters. Three parts ensue, one from each of the girls as they relay to Almighty what they have done that might cause her to disinherit them. Norrie, the oldest girl in the family (17) tells the tale of how in her Speed Reading class she met Robbie Pepper, a 25 year old John Hopkins graduate film student. She tells how they met and slowly came together all while her debutante ball approaches and all the expectations that follow it. Norrie is caught between the new and exciting world of Robbie and the responsible one of Brooks Overbeck, her grandmother- assigned escort and most likely future husband from the second oldest/richest family in Baltimore. It’s a classic case of a girl caught between familial responsibilities and wanting to live her own life, which I imagine we’ve all felt from time to time.
After we learn of Norrie’s drama, it’s Jane’s turn. I’ll admit to not relating as much to Jane as I did Norrie, her motto after all is “Destroy Everything!” She’s the family rebel who lacks a cause so she routinely makes one. MyEvilFamily.com is her rebellion, her blog in which she reveals all the evil of the Sullivan clan- how they evilly made their money, how hypocritical they are, etc, etc. She swears she’s telling the truth that’s been suppressed for years, but in reality she’s just looking for attention. Her patron saint is Joan of Arc and she relates to her deeply, she too is sticking it to the man, and if she goes down in flames for it, then it just means they could both be misunderstood. Jane’s confession traces her downward spiral into obscene self-absorption, and while I was skeptical she was contrite, the blog entries that are included are really rather hilarious.
Finally we end with Sassy, the youngest Sullivan sister at 15, who is kind of caught in the background of the family. She’s the sweetest and one of the only ones who isn’t raging against the family machine in some way. While her other sisters are rebelling, she’s dealing with issues of life and death. Sassy keeps getting hit by cars and walking away unscathed while bad things begin to happen to those around her making her think she’s “unkillable.” I’ll admit I found it a strange plotline, but at the same time it perfectly summed up the subtle arrogance of being a young teen and quite literally feeling like the world revolves around you. What’s even better is that since Sassy is the nice sister, you don’t quite think of the sheer arrogance of her believing she was special enough to be the only person who couldn’t die. It’s weird but it works.
The end of the book, once the confessions are turned into Almighty, made me snort in the middle of my lunch break at work, so I won’t spoil it for you all, just be prepared to laugh because it’s ridiculous and fantastic. Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters is a quick fun read, that kept me laughing and relating. Naturally it had some overarching messages, but more than anything it was an enjoyable romp and didn’t take itself too seriously, which frankly, too many books do.
So if you’ve got a crazy family or even if you just want to live vicariously through one, pick it up!