When entering a genre so well-covered and sticky sweet, one has to do something to make one’s work stand out. Rebecca Wells’ Divine Secrets does a fairly good job at exploring the relationship between a mother and her daughter. Emotional, yet heartwarming, this is a fun and easy read.
In the first few pages, readers are plunged into the life of an interesting, lively young woman named Sidda Walker and her relationship with her mother. To try and make peace with her mother, she requests the Ya Ya memorabilia – a collection of treasures that Vivi (Sidda’s mother) and her tight-knit group of girlfriends have collected over the years. Sidda wants to learn about female friendship, and she thinks that would be the best place. Vivi begrudgingly agrees to send her the treasure-trove of secrets, but doesn’t forgive Sidda for her behavior which has caused a rift to form between them. Distraught and confused by the upheaval of subsequent emotions, her upbringing , and memories of her oft-times difficult relationship with her mother, Sidda postpones her wedding and heads for the woods to reflect on her life and her inability to trust herself in love.
However, the box asks more questions than it answers, and Sidda finds herself in need of help from the Ya Yas. The scrapbook she receives from her mother chronicles the history of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in pictures, letters and mementoes. But during her exploration of the scrapbook Sidda begins to see her mother in a new light. She sees her for the first time as a young girl, and a blossoming teenager who falls in love. She even sees her mother’s heartbreak for the first time. And through Vivi and the other Ya-Ya’s; Caro, Necie and Teensy, Sidda discovers the true meaning of loyalty, friendship and undying love.
The author uses direct dialogue and letters written by the characters to tell the story. Wells draws the reader into a different world, where the past and present combined to create a history of one woman and her very dear friends. Through Sidda, the reader is able to experience a time where in the midst of uncertainty and heartbreak, the merging of the two generations takes place. The growth of understanding between a mother and her daughter which is at the core of this tale, is expertly woven. Though the writing is fragmented in places, and switches between different characters and one time period to another, Sidda is the thread the holds the story together; the book is, after all, about her self discovery through the untold stories of her mother.
The story is a deeply involving and moving rollercoaster; it remains balanced despite being highly emotional. Each of the characters has been well developed and they are all easily likeable, especially the Ya-Yas. They’re quirky, funny, silly and yet true and very loyal to each other. It is through them that the main character, Sidda, learns to trust not only her own emotions, but the emotions of those she holds most dear to her heart. Wells has done an amazing job creating the complexities that so often surround the relationships of women, mothers and daughters while avoiding any stereotype in her narration.
This is a book which will give any reader a rich, rewarding reading experience. It gives great insight and wisdom about relationships between children and parents. A must read for anyone.
Made into a Hollywood movie, the on-screen adaptation, directed by Callie Khouri was released in 2002.