In the lush and magical prose we've come to expect from Alice Hoffman, The Story Sisters is an intricate and heartbreaking tale of a family broken by tragedy and healed, ultimately, by hope and redemption. Elv is the beautiful and dangerous eldest sister who invents another world, Arnelle, and a secret language, Arnish, understood only by her two younger sisters, Meg and Claire. The language and secrecy of the sisters is only the beginning of many worries for Annie, their beautiful and divorced mother, who attends to her personal pain by tending to her garden and boundless varieties of tomato plants. At the heart of Elv's self-destructive nature is a horrible secret no child should keep, but Elv believes her sacrifice was necessary to keep her sisters safe. But after a tragic accident, the sisters are separated and life, it seems, presents no safe harbors. With wonderfully drawn characters, Hoffman presents a power-struggle among siblings that is resoundingly real and powerful. For all of the pain and tribulation life can sometimes offer, The Story Sisters illustrates that happy endings are still possible, even if it's not what we expect.
Recommended by Rachel DeBusk