In A Slender Thread by Tracie Peterson, five sisters return home to Council Grove, Kansas, for the funeral of the mother who had abandoned them to pursue an acting career. They gather at the farmhouse of their grandmother, Mattie, who raised them and tried to instill in them a hope and faith in God. But each of the women has been affected in different ways by their mother’s desertion which causes conflict between them.
Ashley is married to a doctor, has two young boys, and is vying for Supermom status, trying to be everything her mother was not to her. Brook is a model who can’t let herself open her heart to the possibility of love. Connie feels alone because her two older and two younger sisters are close, and she has a different father, so she feels the odd woman out on many fronts. But she makes it worse by putting up walls that none of them can break through and making choices that she knows Mattie would be heartbroken over if she knew. Deirdre was the only planned child of her mother, conceived to try to heal her marriage. She’s the peacemaker but hides a secret obsession. Erica was the youngest, born barely 9 months after Deirdre, a gifted musician who puts her potential career above her love interest.
As the girls gather for the first time in years, tensions rise to the surface and harsh words break out on all sides. Mattie tries to point them to the love the have for each other, the “slender thread” that ties them together, and to God’s help and grace, but each one is too immersed in her own issues.
There’s a lot of bickering in this book. A lot. It’s meant to show that their issues go beyond the usual sibling rivalry, but they seem extraordinarily touchy and too willing to get offended by innocent remarks. Some of the same issues keep coming up over and over – which does happen when people are fixated on their past hurts without attempts to come to peace with them. But it did get old. The story seemed very slow in the first section when the girls were all together but the action picked up quite a bit when they all went back to their own lives and we saw them in their own setting. Their characters were developed quite a bit more then.
But I did appreciate the emphasis that we don’t have to be bound by a bad past or a parent who has failed us. We’ll forever be affected by them, but with grace and forgiveness and God’s help, we can put the past in perspective and forge new trails for ourselves and our families.
(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)