Sky and Tara have the lives they want.
Sky has a job, a baby, and a husband she loves. She has everything she has ever wanted, everything she dreamed.
Tara has a man, a baby, and the career she wants as a rap artist. Her crew is her family and she is on the road to fame and fortune. She could not ask for more.
At the height of their happiness, the world falls apart and the half-sisters find themselves at odds over their choices and old hurts that never went away. Finding peace is hard and finding forgiveness and love even harder.
A story that begins with an unwed white rap artist living with her son’s father in a crumbling Detroit is a bit far-fetched, but not unheard of, and Ann Pearlman makes the story timely and real. It is easy to like Sky with her conventional life, her homemade granola, and even her penchant for pouring five artificial sweeteners in her coffee; liking Tara is a bit harder.
A Gift for My Sister begins with Sky’s perfect life, her love for her husband Troy and their daughter Rachel and a sense of impending doom that descends with decisive force. Sky’s life was settled, her path clear, and Tara’s career is just taking off. The trouble comes not from Tara’s pipe dream coming true, but from old wounds and the different choices they have made. Suddenly, Sky’s life turns out less than perfect and Tara, against all the odds, is getting everything while Sky’s world crumbles to ash.
Countering Sky’s voice with Tara’s in separate chapters is done with deft skill and makes both women’s stories come alive. Their voices are preserved and still move the story swiftly toward confrontation and conclusion, giving each time to voice each woman's anger, confusion, and love. I thoroughly enjoyed A Gift for My Sister.
My only complaint is the way Pearlman leans so heavily on the black man’s plight in society, giving only a quick nod to the rapid changes made in the last 50 years. Stereotypes appear through Sky’s eyes, stereotypes that have no weight from the poignant characterizations so carefully constructed, and are dealt with swiftly. I would go with the belief that 70% of all statistics are bogus and forgive Pearlman’s soapbox grandstanding and focus on the very real and very wonderful story she has written.