The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
Release Date - July 2014
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
"Sis" Blake put her life on hold following a tragic car accident. She's raised her siblings, with the help of her grandmother. Now her sister, a single mom, is about to marry a man that Sis does not believe is all he makes himself appear to be. Her brother's returned from the war, missing one leg and unwilling to leave his room. To top it off the biggest hurricane in history is barreling towards their Mississippi town. Secrets are starting to come out, and Sis must keep her own sanity while also trying to keep her family from crumbling apart and safe from this storm that is looking worse with every passing hour.
The Oleander Sisters is a charming southern tale that delves into topics like teen pregnancy, abusive relationships, the trauma of the Vietnam War, and a heavy dose of southern cooking. Sis's grandmother owns a cafe, so a portion of the story takes place in that cafe.
I liked Sis, though I also felt for her having to keep secrets and putting her own life on hold. Her reactions to those around her came off as very human and honest. Given that this was set in the 1960s, I understood the choices her sister made and also appreciated her strength and determination to do what was best for her son. Even Sweet Mama, Sis's brother, and Beulah, the woman who helped Sweet Mama raise them, are likable characters.
As much as I enjoyed the story, there was one aspect that I really missed. Perhaps it is in the final copy of the book, but all the discussion about the Amen Cobbler, I really expected to find a recipe at the end. In the copy I reviewed, it was lacking. Given that, I'm going to have to take one of my own cobbler recipes and see if I can't come out with my own version of this decadent peach and cherry cobbler that received regular mention throughout The Oleander Sisters.