THE SWEENEY SISTERS
By: Lian Dolan
Published: April 28, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Have you ever thought about taking one of those DNA tests that reveal your family heritage? What if you took it and the test reveals a thirty-plus-year family secret that your family never intended to tell you? When Serena Tucker takes a DNA test on a whim and it matches with someone that she grew up with, she uses her journalist skills to find out more details.
The novel opens with the sudden death of well-known author William Sweeney. Liza, Maggie, and Tricia, his three daughters, come together to celebrate his life and close out the overwhelming estate. But, they are on a deadline. They have to find William Sweeney’s memoir manuscript before the publisher’s deadline.
Serena Tucker grew up next door to the Sweeney’s. As an only child, she envied the Sweeney sisters, the laughter that she could hear from their playing in the backyard, and how they were each other’s best friends. Serena is a well-known DC journalist and podcaster but when she comes home for William Sweeney’s funeral, she watches the sisters from afar and wonders how she will ever fit in with them.
Liza, Maggie, and Tricia were close through their childhood, but their lives sent them separate ways. Each of them is struggling with something personal and when they come back home for the funeral, their lives may never be the same.
There is a lot of family drama to be found with the Sweeney family. This sudden death of their father has brought back the grief they all felt after losing their mother to cancer. Plus, each one of the sisters is trying to hide their own personal struggle while putting on a brave face for each other. I liked the personal backstories of each of the sisters as well as Serena’s. I felt like their struggles were relatable and not overly dramatized for the situation.
Even though this seems like it would be a heavy storyline or depressing at times, it wasn’t. Dolan brought a lightness to the novel through the sharing of memories and just the sisters hanging out together. There were fun moments among the grief-filled ones and that made the story even more realistic. One minute the characters would be laughing and then next there would be tears. Much like how many of us have dealt with a parent’s death.
Each of the sisters (including Serena) grew and changed through the death of William Sweeney. Their strengths, individuality, and values emerged while working together. They each handled their grief while also taking a serious look at their personal lives. At the end of the summer, the sisters come out very different people, but, for the better.
Fans of family dramas and sister stories will find much to love about this East Coast family and their challenge to live without their charismatic and much-loved father.
Lian Dolan is a writer and talker. She’s the author of two Los Angeles Times best-selling novels, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife published by Prospect Park Books. She’s a regular humor columnist for Pasadena Magazine and has previously written monthly columns for O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. She’s also written for TV, radio, and websites.
Lian is the producer and host of Satellite Sisters, the award-winning talk show she created with her four real sisters. On Satellite Sisters, she’s interviewed everyone from Nora Ephron to Madeleine Albright to Big Bird. Satellite Sisters began life as a syndicated radio show and is now a top-rated podcast for women. The recent book by the Satellite Sisters, You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship, is popular with book clubs.
A popular speaker who combines humor and heart, Lian has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Sunday Morning and The Today Show and many local TV stations. She’s been a featured speaker at the LA Times Festival of Books, the Santa Barbara Celebrity Authors Lunch, the Literary Guild of Orange County Festival of Women Authors and dozens of other events at libraries, book stores, schools and women’s organizations across the country. In 2020, she’ll be on the faculty of the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. Check out her website, HERE.
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