Published January 1, 2017
After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.Hmm, I seem to be really into stories lately that feature dysfunctional families and the secrets they keep. Sisters One, Two, Three tells the story of the Tangle family, which imploded after a deadly accident during a family vacation.
When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter. - from Goodreads
The story is told in a dual narrative, two different time periods but both from the point of view of oldest sister, Ginger. One narrative shows Ginger as an adult, married with a teenage daughter (with whom she has a very tense relationship). The other narrative takes place during the 1970s, leading up to the accident. We know pretty early on that son/brother Charlie has died, but we don't know how, so I was on pins and needles waiting for it to happen. I took everything as foreshadowing!
After Charlie dies, mother Glory has a bit of a breakdown, so it is decided that the family will never talk about what happened. But of course, this is a terrible way to handle things, and the family continues to deteriorate, first with the death of father Solly. Then youngest sister Callie is sent away to boarding school, and her sisters Ginger and Mimi don't hear from her for over 25 years, until after the death of their mother. They don't know where she's been or what she's been doing.
After Callie returns, secrets are revealed as to where she's been all this time and honestly, I was kind of horrified to find that out. It just seemed unusually cruel to me. It was also cruel to find out that Glory had known for years where she was and kept that from the other siblings.
It was interesting to see how Ginger's childhood affected the woman she became. When we meet Ginger as an adult, she's an extreme worrier, way overprotective of her daughter, and definitely a planner in every aspect of her life. As the book moves along, it's obvious that Glory was a pretty terrible mother - she lied about everything, she was often cruel to her children, and sometimes it seems like she forgot they were even there. I wouldn't say it was abusive - Glory was just supremely selfish. Ginger had to learn how to manage her mother's moods and watch out for her younger siblings, and she was deeply affected by her brother's freak accident.
The overall feel of the book was quite melancholy, so this wasn't quite the summer read I was expecting it to be. I appreciated that the ending didn't just tie everything up in a happy bow. It was actually pretty open-ended, leaving the reader to wonder where the characters go from here.