Title: The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters
Author: Lorraine Lopez
Release Date: October 1, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
From the back cover:
Having lost their mother in early childhood, the Gabaldón sisters consider Fermina, their elderly Pueblo housekeeper, their surrogate Grandmother. The mysterious Fermina love the girls as if they are her own, and promises to endow each with a “special gift” to be received upon her death.
Mindful of the old woman’s mystical ways, the sisters believe Fermina’s gifts, bestowed based on their natural talents, magically enhance their lives. The oldest sister, Bette Davis Gabaldón, always teased for telling tales, believes her gift is the power to persuade anyone, no matter how outlandish her story. Loretta Young, who often prefers pets to people, assumes her gift is the ability to heal animals. Tough-talking tomboy, Rita Hayworth believes her gift is the ability to curse her enemies. And finally, Sophia Loren, the baby of the family, is sure her ability to make people laugh is her legacy.
As the four girls grow into women they discover that Fermina’s gifts come with complicated strings, and what once seemed simple can confuse over time. Together they learn the truth about their mysterious caretaker, her legacy, and the family secret that was nearly lost forever in the New Mexican desert.
When I first heard about The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, I thought it would be similar to Sarah Addison Allen’s novel Garden Spells (which I loved). The ides of magic in every day life is a wonderful thought, and I was eager to see it employed in Lopez’ book.
However, the story of The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters is very different than what I expected. Instead of a coherent story, the reader is given glimpses into the lives of the four sisters. We visit them at different ages and different times, merely getting a feeling for them, rather than intimately getting to know them. The result of this technique is mixed. On one hand, it gives the reader an overall, broad picture, making the book seem about the family of sisters rather than about them as individuals. On the other hand, the reader doesn’t have the chance to establish a relationship and come to care about these characters. Overall, though, I would say it is effective in getting across the message of family and sisters that Lopez seems to focus on.
Lopez’ writing is also very graceful. She does an excellent job of making each character distinct. They each have their own unique voice and, though the reader doesn’t spend enough time with them to really make them come alive, each of their stories evokes emotion and sympathy.
However, my problem with The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters was that I just couldn’t get into it. I usually enjoy books about sisters, but in this case, I didn’t feel like they really had a strong bond until the end of the book. It seemed to me like it was just family obligation for the most part. Also, I didn’t really see the point of the novel. I understand that the search for the truth about Fermina is supposed to tie the novel together; however, that topic is only visited at the beginning and the end of the novel. The interspersed reports do fill in the gaps in her history, but those reports have no relation to the sisters. It just didn’t seem to make the book a coherent whole (as I am assuming it was supposed to do), and in the end, when the girls found out the truth, I can’t say it really moved me.
I know that others have enjoyed this book much more than I have, and in the end, it is a good, well-written book. It just didn’t seem to speak to me!