The Sisters, Ink series (also called the Scrapbooker’s series) by Rebeca Seitz is made up of four books focusing on four sisters of different ethnicities adopted by Jack and Marian Sinclair in the small town of Stars Hill, TN. The sisters are adults now and Marian passed away ten years ago. Their father, a pastor, is seeing a new lady named Zelda, but the sisters are having a hard time accepting her, not only because they don’t want their mother replaced, but Zelda is so unconventional and different from their mother. That subplot and others carry over each of the four books, but each focuses on one particular sister. The girls call a “scrapping night” in a room set up for that purpose in their father’s home when they need to talk and solve problems.
Sisters, Ink. spotlights Tandy, a lawyer living in FL. She had been adopted after spending her first eight years on the streets with a junkie parent. I read this book several years ago, but for whatever reason did not review it. But her story involved an extended leave at work, visiting TN, running into and clashing with an old flame. The sisters decide to turn their love of scrapbooking into an online business called Sisters, Ink.
Coming Unglued focuses on Kendra, an African-American woman who is an artist and sometimes jazz singer. She was also adopted at the age of 8 from a mother whose addiction was men. Because she has her mother’s genes and because some of those men molested her as a child, Kendra struggles with self-worth. She’s dating a great guy named Darin, but she feels that if he really knew her background, he’d drop her in flash. When a married man at a jazz club is attracted to her, she struggles with knowing that relationship is not right, but feeling flattered by it and wondering if that’s all she’s good for, if she has no right to rise higher.
On one hand I had a hard time being patient with Kendra as she kept deciding not to see the married guy yet kept being drawn back. But, then, we all do that with different things, don’t we? “I need to cut down on sugar” on Monday, and by Tuesday, “What can a couple of cookies hurt?” So we each struggle with our particular temptations. And people do wrestle with that mindset of being “damaged goods” and “not good enough.”
Scrapping Plans features Chinese sister Joy. Joy was left on the door of an orphanage in China as a baby and doesn’t know anything of her family and background. She’s the ultimate hostess and most organized of the group, described as a Martha Stewart rival. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for over a year with no success, and her husband is resistant to testing. She and her husband take a trip back to China to explore her roots.
I liked the play on words with the title, fitting into the scrapbooking theme yet also illustrating the need to realize that God’s plans might be different from ours. I also appreciated the facets of Joy’s experience in grieving over not conceiving, then becoming obsessed with the desire to have a child, and how that impacted her husband.
Perfect Piece brings the story back to Meg, the oldest, married the longest, with three kids. Meg was always the quiet but steady influence of the group. But she has been struggling with headaches through everyone else’s story. In this book, she is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since the tumor is in an area of the brain that affects personality, everyone is warned that Meg may not be the same after surgery, whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Even knowing this, her husband, Jamison, has a hard time with the bitter, angry Meg that emerges on top of the stress of her illness, taking care of the house, dealing with the children, etc. A breakfast at a diner to get away by himself for a bit results in a pleasant conversation with a waitress which leads to regular meetings.
I thought the sisters might have been a little too up in each other’s business. I have four sisters, and though we love each other and would do anything we could to help each other, I don’t think we’d confront each other like these did. But we’re different personalities and don’t live in the same town, so that makes a difference. I thought the girls were way too harsh concerning Zelda. I understand the issues involved in getting used to a new step-mom, but they all evidenced a lack of grace in dealing with her, until they came to an understanding in the end. Though there were no explicit scenes, there was a bit too much reference to some of the couples’ sexual lives for my tastes. I also didn’t like repeated references to older women in the church as “bluehairs.” It’s sad that there are rampant gossipers in the church and no one ever deals with that, but I doubt every older woman in one church would be gossipy. There seems to be a fundamental disrespect to older people in general except the girls’ parents.
But I liked several themes that emerged through the series: being there for each other, helping each other, adjusting lives and thinking to align with God’s Word. I liked several instances when seeing a situation from a different viewpoint, or understanding the circumstances instead of assuming them, diffused misunderstandings. So, all in all I enjoyed the series.
(Sharing with Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)