Last month, my friends Raymond, CJ and I went on a sinful food trip in Quezon City and visited Bookay Ukay (popular store of pre-owned books) at Teacher’s Village near UP Diliman.
Not so many books are on display–a disappointment from high expectation from the raves I heard. But I managed to pluck two books from the shelves. One is Rebecca Wells’ famous novel-turned movie, which I bought because 1.) I always see it in book sales and stores; 2.) it’s a New York Times Best Seller; 3.) It’s only 20 pesos. The other is White Tiger.
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood made me want to sip bourbon, smoke with my girl friends, swim naked in a lake, drive a vintage car across the country, go on a solitary trip far far away, travel with luxury suitcases, cook cream dory fish fillet, speak in English in French accent, get married in a sunflower field.
Also, the story itself is a friendly reminder that’s it’s okay and normal to be crazy.
Forty-year old theater director old Siddalee Walker is not in good terms with her (literally) crazy darling of a mother, Vivi. This is because of a controversial New York Times article about Vivi’s child abuse on her kids, including Sidda. But as one continues to read, forgiveness is within reach as Vivi’s life from her childhood days in Louisiana during the Great Depression, till her mental collapse during the World War, and her charming friendship with 3 other equally amazing ladies (Teensy, Caro and Necie), are all narrated through the memoir that Vivi sent to Sidda.
Every chapter is a fun read. Especially the ending part when I was moved to tears because of some silly emotions I couldn’t trample when Sidda was about to end the long-standing drama between her and vivacious Vivi Dahlin.
It’s interesting to read a story, too, about the U.S. growers in Louisiana because in my work, I only get to read about them through serious statistics, and it’s my first time to read a literary work that mentions the rotation of the crop in farmlands depending on what is valuable to the farmers. It was funny to read that Sidda’s father chose sunflowers one time, over the more profitable cotton, which they used to plant throughout the season and for so many years. Turns out that this foregrounding of some sort planted a nice, warm, sunny, flowery setting for a celebration of love.
If anything, the novel inspires readers to take a chance on life and all its facking complexities–of not giving up easily, of being a strong person in spite of all the ridiculously difficult times one is trapped in, of laughing out loud in a warm summery day with friends, or cuddling together in a cold night over a cup of coffee, of putting up with one another despite each other’s insanity (imagined or clinical).
At the end of the novel, I just dreamed of having a quiet tea or coffee time with my friends, and continue enjoying this short life, so that someday, we can be proud talking about the crazy days we’ve conquered with pizzazz, and share to our kids the divine secrets of being beautiful persons.
photos by CJ from his blogpost here