Minda’s drunk review of The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader
**We received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher as part of a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. We’d like to thank Molly and Grayson House for the opportunity. This book comes out on Tuesday and you can get it here or at your local independent bookstore**
What I drank prior: We are members of a nearby winery’s wine club so it was pick up night. Probably a bottle in an half or so drank? Now watching White Lotus for the first time.
“A breathtaking story of an extraordinary friendship and the transcendent power of a mother’s love. Molly Fader has penned an unforgettable novel that is sure to be one of the year’s best.” —Kristy Woodson Harvey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Veil
A moment of great change sparks the friendship of a lifetime…
1967 Iowa. Nursing school roommates BettyKay and Kitty don’t have much in common. A farmer’s daughter, BettyKay has risked her family’s disapproval to make her dreams come true away from her small rural town. Cosmopolitan Kitty has always relied on her beauty and smarts to get by and to hide a devastating secret from the past that she can’t seem to outrun. Yet the two share a determination to prove themselves in a changing world, forging an unlikely, powerful bond on a campus unkind to women.
Before their first year is up, tragedy strikes, and the women’s paths are forced apart. But against all odds, a decades-long friendship forms, persevering through love, marriage, failure and death, from the jungles of Vietnam to the glamorous circles of Hollywood. Until one snowy night leads their relationship to the ultimate crossroads.
Fifty years later, two estranged sisters are shocked when a famous movie star shows up at their mother’s funeral. Over one tumultuous weekend, the women must reckon with a dazzling truth about their family that will alter their lives forever…
My Summary: TBH this one is a little hard to summarize, but here’s my best attempt. When Clara and Abbie’s mom passes away in small town Iowa where they grew up, they receive a surprise when an old Hollywood star Kitty shows up at their mother’s funeral. Even more surprising, she wants to shed light on their mother’s past that they’ve never known before. What they’re told about their mother—told by Kitty to them but through her journal entries to us—shape a woman who had a whole life before embarking on motherhood.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: One of my favorite reads of the year. The story at its heart is about the bonds of sisterhood and found family. It was sweet, loving, frustrating, heartbreaking, and endearing like the best female friendships. You were really rooting for all the characters. I loved the past and present juxtaposition, but it was the past and Betts voice that had me really riveted. It’s also a great historical fiction read for Vietnam-era/old Hollywood vibes.
Characters: In the past, our main character is BettyKay, an aspiring nurse who is determined to get out of her small town. For the most part, LOVED her. Her best friends are Kitty—an aspiring actress who is kinda self-centered but ultimately good-hearted—and Jenny—the only Black woman in their nursing school who needs to fight for everything she has, and is the most driven. In the present, we have Clara—BettyKay’s oldest and most headstrong—and Abbie—the younger, more sensitive sister. Clara was sorta tedious because she was kinda mean to her mom and sister for imo no reason. Abbie was fine, but also a little tedious but not her fault really. Vickie, Clara’s girlfriend, is a fucking champ.
Plot: The plot moved nicely, thought it’s sorta weird pacing wise since the pteanent takes place over the course of like one week max while the past is like 2-3 years? But for the most part I thought the past moved a lot better than the present. Like I said, Betts is mah girl.
World Building: Pretty solid imo. I loved the 50s vibes from the past more than the present day, but there’s probably more to pull from there. Very old Hollywood glam back in its heyday. Also really felt the sistaerhood bonds bettwen the women, both past and present.
Writing Style: Three perspectives for this—one in the past (BettyKay) and two in the present (Clara and Abbie). It worked, but I liked the past voice the best. Which admittedly makes me read even faster if I like one perspective over the other.
Drink Pairing: Gin martini up with blue cheese olives feels right to me.
Rating: 5/5 shots