The Sweeney Sisters By Lian Dolan (Review by Shona Gibson)

2 min read

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

In Lian Dolan’s latest novel, she writes about the family of William Sweeney, a famous literary icon and college professor, seemingly adored by his daughters, students, critics and publishers alike.

Bill has passed away leaving behind three very different daughters: Maggie, Liza, and Trisha, a literary legacy, a missing manuscript owed the publisher, an aging and dated house, quite a bit a debt and, it seems, a previously unknown adult daughter. One who recently discovered Bill was her biological father through a popular DNA test when one of the other Sweeney sisters, her neighbor growing up, showed up and her family tree.
What ensues is a brilliant and heartwarming story of a family trying to navigate their grief while simultaneously trying to navigate the complexities of discovering their dad fathered another child and what that means to their family—their lives.

Told in multiple points of views of each of the four girls, and with insights from their father’s writing, very much its own character, the Sweeney sisters come to know their father differently than the father who had such a big and important presence in their lives. They get a glimpse of a very different side of him. They also come to see different sides of each other while the other daughter struggles to find belonging and acceptance in a family she always envied.

Each of Dolan’s characters come alive on the pages of this book. I experienced each and every emotion each sister experienced as they struggled to come to terms with each other and a father they thought they knew. I laughed, I cheered, I booed, and I cried.

Ultimately this is a story of grief, forgiveness, finding your way and what it means to be a family.
I highly recommend this book.

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