When Siddalee Walker, Oldest Daughter Of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya Ya Extraordinaire, Is Interviewed In The New York Times About A Hit Play She S Directed, Her Mother Gets Described As A Tap Dancing Child Abuser Enraged, Vivi Disowns Sidda Devastated, Sidda Begs Forgiveness, And Postpones Her Upcoming Wedding All Looks Bleak Until The Ya Yas Step In And Convince Vivi To Send Sidda A Scrapbook Of Their Girlhood Mementos, Called Divine Secrets Of The Ya Ya Sisterhood As Sidda Struggles To Analyze Her Mother, She Comes Face To Face With The Tangled Beauty Of Imperfect Love, And The Fact That Forgiveness, Than Understanding, Is Often What The Heart Longs For I am so tired of this sort of storyline A group of Southern women who form a timeless bond of woman ness and Southern ness and triumph in the face of all hardship because they are delicate as blossoms yet strong and fierce That said, when entering a genre so well covered and sticky sweet, one must do something to make one s work stand out I believe Rebecca Wells does an above average job at this, and her book was a fun and easy read It was hardly ground breaking, nor did I find it moving, and I didn t shed a tear or laugh out loud I just wrinkled my nose at the way everyone just wrapped up their lives with a nice bow at the end and no one walked away with residual hurt feelings or misunderstandings, then put the book down and decided to write this review before I promptly forgot it entirely.If you watched Steel Magnolias or Beaches and thought they were profound, you ll just love this book. I think Vivi WAS a tap dancing child abuser Any discussion of this fact ends at the being whipped with the belt scene Vivi had no right to be enraged when this fact comes to light she should have been embarrassed, yes Her daughter arguably should not have revealed this dirty laundry but should have worked it through with her mother privately.According to this book, a scrapbook of silly adventures with Vivi s zany friends makes that behavior forgivablenot an apology or explanation from Vivi Daughter is chastened and forgives dear Vivi after reading the scrapbook.Another thingPLEASE, spare me the Southern Women stories I live in the South and have never met anyone remotely like thisThank God I m having a hard time deciding if I liked this book or not On the surface, not so much About 30 pages in, I wasn t sure if I was going to make it through, or if I was going to go insane if I saw the word Ya Ya one time.There were some things that I liked about it Friendship that endures, closer than blood Knowing there s always someone there in your corner, and they ve been there your whole life Daughters learning that Mom had a life before she became a Mother, and has a separate identity apart from Mom I think my main problem was that I thought the Ya Yas were all a bunch of spoiled brats that we re supposed to love just because we re told to Oh, they re so fabulous, it s okay that they desecrate a religious icon that means a lot to Vivi s mother It s okay that they strip down naked and go swimming in the town s water supply So the message seems to be that you can get away with whatever the hell you want, as long as you act like it s your birthright to be so obnoxious.Meanwhile Sidda daughter of Vivi, one of the Ya Yas pretty much seem to do nothing but page through the old scrapbook the Divine Secrets of the title , avoid her fiance, and Think Deep Thoughts as she walks around the woods, or wherever the hell she is She doesn t really seem to have much identity of her own, she just exists so there can be a Happy Ending, that we all knew was coming anyway.The main conflict between Sidda and her mother seems to be that Vivi beat the holy hell out of her kids, and she s mad that Sidda is now famous enough to be interviewed for the New York Times and she told them about it So Vivi s mad thatthe truth was told So I guess I m glad I read it I m also glad I only paid half price for it at the used bookstore. Seriously not my cup of tea Cutsey language, sentimentality run amok, and a deep sense of nostalgia for times that, well, I couldn t possibly feel nostalgic for I m not sure how an abusive mother is supposed to be funny or colorful, nor how transferring your disfunction onto you children is to be held up like a badge of honor Maybe I needed to have crazy parents to understand it. When the whole Ya Ya craze was going on, my book club decided we d better read it to see what all the fuss was about In the end, we had to take a vote ya ya if you liked it no no if you didn t I fell into the no no group I found it disturbing that hordes of women were flocking to this book that is really about completely dysfunctional families and marriages and a really unhealthy attachment to friends from the past It made me wonder what s going on with women that this kind of co dependent group of friends was something to aspire to.I had a similar reaction to Bridges of Madison County, although I did go see the movie, and Meryl Streep did get me, despite my skepticism. To borrow an expression from the book, this sucker is Tr s ya ya no How can a writer so obsessed with small town aristocracy manage to slip in so many references to peeing in one s pants I never manage to abandon books once I ve started them, even when they re utter and total tripe Thank goodness this reads fast so I didn t waste any of my life on it I seem to be missing the Chick Lit Gene I just flat out do not understand, or identify with, this kind of writing I m not like this My friends aren t like this My mother, thank Heaven, is not like this Our lovely Louisiana friends are not like this I don t know anyone who is like this I m beginning to suspect that nobody is like this, except in pulpy pseudo literature written by women with juvenile Scarlett O Hara fantasies I would be ashamed to be this kind of feminine This is the story of Sidda, a dull, spineless, immature, 40 year old with no identity of her own, and her malicious, self absorbed, alcoholic, racist, mother, Vivi, who appears to be taking out on everyone around her the frustrations of a lifetime of being a legend only in her own mind One gets the impression that Vivi needed the Ya Yas so she could be notorious somewhere, since she doesn t have the class or discipline to accomplish anything of genuine value.It s badly written, the dialogue is clumsy, and I think it must hold some kind of world record for wallowing in self pity Wells is also an unbearable reference dropper River Road Recipes , interspersed bayou French, Cajun fiddle, Community Coffee, etc Apparently the divine secret is that this bunch of self centered superannuated teenagers chose to flash freeze their high school lives and mentalities at the expense of emotional adulthood, their marriages, and their children Yeah, there s going to be drama and hardship in your life if you react to every little thing as if it s a catastrophe and use it as an excuse to drink and dope yourself into a stupor Complex needs to stop being a literary euphemism for manipulative, self serving, toxic, and narcissistic Ironically, Vivi is the least likable and least interesting of the four Ya Yas, though she s supposed to be the luminary.I guess it says something that Ms Wells has lived in Washington state for the past 25 years If she loved Louisiana so much, why did she leave and then write boring, mindless, novels about it My mother and her Ya Ya s were called the sisters of Beta Sigma Phi sorority in Charleston S.C I grew up on the marshes watching them swing dance, shuck oysters and throwing what always seemed like a never ending festival that celebrated life They did community work and supported the local theatre, but mostly they just had a good time I grew up in the whirlwind of color and laughter that now seems only like a distant dream Momma passed 18 years ago and I don t think I will ever be the same I miss her, and her Ya Ya s, Aunt Betty, Aunt Carol, Aunt Dolores with their respective husbands and friends in toe I live in New York now, not unlike Siddlee, but they are always with me especially when I revisit their split a parts in the tapestry of Rebecca Well s Divine Secret of the Ya Ya Sisterhood If you want to know about who I am and where I come from read this book, it explains a lot So pass the bloodies sugar, it s time to get our panties in a knot Rebecca Wells can think up a few succulent stories, but her writing is absolute fast food It left me depressed to think that women are encouraged to read so called chick lit on the basis that they only need a few sentimental tales about love, friendship, and or family to satisfy them, no matter how infantile the writing style or half baked the arguments view spoiler Of COURSE the story had to end with a big white wedding That signifies catharsis in every woman s life, right By the end of the book, I was ready to scream if I had to read one description of what brand of clothing every female character donned in each scene When she branched out beyond fashion, Wells s metaphors were mixed and repetitive, if not clich And when she did touch on several potentially provocative issues such as love, loss, racism, poverty, domestic abuse, and religion, in each case she only tapped the tip of the iceberg, threw in some dramatic action like an Indian campfire or arson in a Catholic school, and tried to let that pass for profound literary philosophy.Her treatment of Southern racism made me terribly uneasy Only twice does she express outright disapproval In the case of her showing how the working class treatment of black servants in Louisiana was superior to the high society approach in Georgia, she once again seemed to be superficially addressing an issue that for me needed attention and in depth analysis sheerly to avoid controversy With the crux of her story orbited by the ever lasting loyalty among the Ya Ya s, she also completely failed to address the fact that it is generally abnormal and unhealthy to remain in a clique from high school on into senility It usually signifies a failure to branch out, explore, and learn Considering the quality of the book, maybe the author proves this point therein hide spoiler Oh I loved this book I had a very complicated relationship with my mother and though a cliche, I could well relate to that aspect of the book I also love the movie, but I love the book I read it just before the movie came out I ve also battled severe depression and this book and movie is near to my heart Overall, the details, descriptions relationships are just amazing Ms Wells has Lyme disease and has had a horrible past few years, and when I joined the message boards on her website, I mentioned that I had Lyme disease and as a result have been battling many health problems myself over the years I was asked by the moderator if I would write about what I ve gone through so that fans could better understand her struggles I was so honored and touched Update 5 21 2014 Unfortunately, as it turns out, I did not have Lyme disease, although I do have different debilitating auto immune disease I have Rheumatoid Disease aka Rheumatoid Arthritis and have likely had it since I was fairly young aka Juvenile RA Since beginning IV med treatments, I have had an improved quality of life whereas prior I had no quality of life , but it was too far along to be cured there is hope to be cured or put into remission within the first two years of the disease s appearance I ve been at and will continue to be at the disease symptom management stage It s incurable, chronic and progressive It s WAY than just arthritis it affects my nerves, kidneys 5 surgeries to date in less than 10 years , my heart which has damage due to an infection that caused a high fever which caused an alarming spike in my heart rate 4 years ago , my eye sight, my motor skills, leaves me at higher risk for heart attack, stroke and cancers vs healthy folks and leaves me open to picking up bacterial and viral infections at the drop of a dime all in addition to on top of chronic pain, swelling and fatigue.