Toni Kozlovsky can’t explain how she knows exactly what her sisters are feeling—only that the connection seems to happen out of the blue, just when they need it most. Since Toni, Valerie, and Ellie were little girls growing up in Communist Russia, their parents have insisted it’s simply further proof that the Kozlovskys are special and different.
Now a crime and justice reporter, Toni lives on a yellow tugboat on Oregon’s Willamette River. As far as her parents are concerned, the pain of their old life and their dangerous escape should remain buried in the Moscow they left behind, as should the mysterious past of their adopted brother, Dmitry. But lately, Toni’s talent for putting on a smile isn’t enough to keep memories at bay.
Valerie, a prosecuting attorney, wages constant war against the wrongs she could do nothing about as a child. Youngest sister Ellie is engaged to marry an Italian, breaking her mother’s heart in the process. Toni fears she’s about to lose her home, while the hard edged DEA agent down the dock keeps trying to break through her reserve. Meanwhile, beneath the culture clashes and endearing quirks within her huge, noisy, loving family are deeper secrets that Toni has sworn to keep—even from the one person she longs to help most.
As poignant as it is humorous, The Language of Sisters explores the echoes of the past that can cling to the present—and how love, laughter, and family can rescue us time and again. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)
So many wonderful things in this novel that really resonated with me, from even the smallest of nuances. Toni’s story isn’t unlike what many of us have gone through in our own lives, when it comes to protecting our hearts from damage. I could really relate and identify with her need for building up walls, especially when it comes to romantic involvements. At first, I wasn’t quite sure where her fears stemmed from, but I loved that. Cathy Lamb shows us, vs. coming right out and telling us Toni’s backstory, only adding to the seriousness and dedication of this character.
The relationship between Toni and her sisters is pure love. I felt the urge to call my own sibling up and check in with her, reminding me just how important family can be. Toni’s parents are a riot, reminiscent of the parents in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. There is no filter, showcasing real honesty. It was a very unique perspective on family dynamics.
I appreciated the backstory on Communist Russia. I know someone who had suffered from similar experiences in her own childhood, and I can remember the haunted look in her eyes when she’d tell me what her own family had gone through in order to survive. This was another unique perspective, blending in beautifully with Toni and her driving need to live her life in a certain way, free from restrictions. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover the backdrop for The Language of Sisters is in Oregon, right off of the Willamette River. I’m from Salem, Oregon, and it was nice to be reminded of the beauty that surrounds that wonderful state, having moved from there nearly twenty years ago. I thought Cathy described the city perfectly, and I loved the animal characters she’s thrown in who have human characteristics. It was a really nice touch.
The Language of Sisters is a gentle read, taking us through the intricate web of Toni’s life, giving us not only a better understanding of what makes her tick, but a better understanding of our own lives, especially when it comes to family. A great read!
Thanks to Cathy Lamb for the book in exchange for an honest review.
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