The Sunshine Sisters revolves around the family of Ronni Sunshine, a narcissistic B-movie star who calls her three estranged daughters home to fulfill her final wishes as she deals with a grave illness. Absent, self-involved, and prone to “moods,” Ronni has not only left emotional scars on her daughters, but has pushed them as far away as possible—both from herself and from each other. Plagued with strained relationships and troubles of their own, the three sisters find themselves under the same roof, no longer the little girls they once were, but slipping into old roles just the same. There’s controlled, responsible eldest daughter Nell, a farmer and single mother who keeps herself closed off; sensitive, people-pleasing Meredith, who has allowed her mother’s criticisms to drive her overseas to London, in a life and engagement she’s not sure she wants; and youngest daughter Lizzy, a rising culinary star who is most like her mother, including the way she allows her behavior to put her marriage and family life in jeopardy. As the sisters cope with their mother’s life-changing news, their history, relationships, and family bonds are thrown into perspective, shedding new light on who they are and who they will become. Rich with flashbacks to the girls’ childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, The Sunshine Sisters is a compelling and engrossing novel of how the past can shape us, and how we can choose to shape the future.
Jane Green has said that this may be her favorite of her novels, and it’s easy to see why. This book captures everything we’ve come to love about Green’s writing: beautifully drawn relationships, complicated characters, and delicious-sounding food. While dealing with serious issues of death and illness, The Sunshine Sisters never once feels maudlin, and is at its core a story of life and family. I loved the way it moved us through different stages in the girls’ lives, with large spans of time dedicated to 1981, 1991, 2007, and the present, revealing how each sister was affected differently by Ronni and how their shared childhood led them on such different paths. There are few things I find more satisfying than discovering how characters came to be who they are, why they make the decisions and mistakes that they do, and that is nestled in every nook and cranny of The Sunshine Sisters. Through these pages, I went through the whole buffet of emotions, filling my plate with laughter, tears, searing pain, and heart-swelling beauty. I loved every line.
If you’re a Jane Green fan, snatch up this book without hesitation. If this is your first Jane Green novel, it won’t be your last. The Sunshine Sisters is a book you won’t forget, and one you might just want to read again and again.