The Sunshine Girls
by Molly Fader
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Publisher: Graydon House
Number of pages: 352
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Ages 16 and up
CW: war, grief, domestic abuse,
abortion, substance abuse & addiction,
death of parent
A moment of great change sparks the friendship of a lifetime…
1967 Iowa. Nursing school roommates BettyKay and Kitty don’t have much in common. A farmer’s daughter, BettyKay has risked her family’s disapproval to make her dreams come true away from her small rural town. Cosmopolitan Kitty has always relied on her beauty and smarts to get by and to hide a devastating secret from the past that she can’t seem to outrun. Yet the two share a determination to prove themselves in a changing world, forging an unlikely, powerful bond on a campus unkind to women.
Before their first year is up, tragedy strikes, and the women’s paths are forced apart. But against all odds, a decades-long friendship forms, persevering through love, marriage, failure and death, from the jungles of Vietnam to the glamorous circles of Hollywood. Until one snowy night leads their relationship to the ultimate crossroads.
Fifty years later, two estranged sisters are shocked when a famous movie star shows up at their mother’s funeral. Over one tumultuous weekend, the women must reckon with a dazzling truth about their family that will alter their lives forever…
First of all, I have to mention the cover of this book. It’s gorgeous! It was a huge draw to get me to request this book. Don’t you love it?
This is only the second book I’ve read by this author, and both stories are deeply touching and emotional. This book time jumps between what is essentially the present day and the late 1960s. There are a lot of content warnings for this book as part of the story takes part while some of the characters are in nursing school during the Vietnam War. Just keep that in mind before proceeding.
While I found this story to be well written and the author does a great job at weaving the past and the present, I found myself getting impatient with the speed things were unfolding. Quite frankly, I couldn’t understand how Clara wasn’t losing her mind trying to find out the truth about her life. At the same time, when not thinking about the secret Clara was trying to uncover, I thoroughly enjoyed the story of BettyKay and her girlfriends. The current-day parts of the story didn’t really hook me until later in the book. And though I was pretty sure I knew the gist of the secret Clara was looking into, I was quite curious as to how it came about. Again, that was taking too long for me.
What I loved about this book was all of the stories of sisterhood. Clara and Abbie having lost their mom are trying to hold things together while there’s also a huge chasm between them that was never there when they were growing up. They’re both wrapped up in their own problems and have a hard time looking beyond that to understand the actions of the other. Their slow way back to each other is lovely and hopeful. BettyKay, Kitty, and Jenny may not have grown up as sisters, but they form their own sisterhood in nursing school. They love each other, can’t stand each other, and support each other in equal parts. It’s a rare and special friendship that spans generations.
In the end, I was glad I read this book. It may have moved too slowly for me, but that is more of a preference of mine as I found the flow of the story worked really well. I found myself emotionally invested in these characters
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely*