Little Altars Everywhere - Ya Yas, Bk 2 Author:Rebecca Wells The companion to the beloved bestseller Divine Secrets of the Ya-YaSisterhood, here is the funny, heartbreaking, and powerfully insightful tale that first introduced Siddalee, Vivi, their spirited Walker clan, and the indomitable Ya-Yas.
"Richer, darker and deeper than the second book or the movie, this book truly is a 'must' read if you want to understand the Walker family, especially the mystery who is Viviane Abbot Walker.
Starting as a simple short story ("Looking for My Mules," with Shep, Viviane and an old man lost on their farm), Rebecca Wells' tales of growing up in Louisiana in a less than perfect home grew first into Little Altars Everywhere, then into the Divine Secrets book and movie. Each chapter contains a well crafted short story, told from the viewpoint of different characters. Each chapter offers a title with the name of the narrator and year they are talking in. In some cases, the titles are enough to draw you in (Catfish Dreams; E-Z Boy War; The Princess of Gimmee.)
From the 60's to the 90's, each story offers a simple, but meaningful slice of the entire Walker family's story. Some are told in the present, some are memories of what happened long ago. The chapters weave together to give you a wider view of what was going on from different perspectives.
As you read, you'll find yourself piecing together the story of Sidalee, her siblings, her mother Vivi and father Shep, as well as Willetta and Chaney, the black couple who were hired help, and who have an outside view of the family.
Don't stop reading with this book, or you'll miss a view of the whole person -- doting mother, child abuser, unloved child, shattered schoolgirl, broken hearted, passionate lover, distant wife and mother as well as a view of Shep as a fallible human being and how he contributed to Vivi's 'condition' and the affect it had on their children.
A treasure of a book, you may find it more unsettling than the movie or the second book. Excellent writing, it will leave you wanting to know more (unless you've already read the second book!)"
- Dale A. Blanchard
This is the first book in the "Ya-Yas Series," the most famous of which being "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." Serving as a prequel to "Divine Secrets...," "Little Altars Everywhere" is split into two parts and every chapter is told from the perspective of a different character in the Walker family (with a few exceptions). The first half of the book focuses on the 1960s and is written in a relatively light tone for the most part. The chapters from the children especially focus on how life was so exciting living with Vivi Walker as their mother because things were never boring. The second half of the book is much darker, takes place primarily in the 1990s, and explores how growing up with eccentric, alcoholic Vivi has impacted her children into adulthood.
I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half of the book. I understand that the second half shows how the craziness of Vivi impacted her children later on in life, but certain parts really bothered me. I was left feeling frustrated that there was no effective help for Vivi (medical or otherwise) or the children in the 1960s, unlike today where Social Services would have intervened. Vivi was painted to be much more of a monster in this book than the sympathetic character she is in the two sequels. I read this book first and definitely like "Divine Secrets" much, much better. Reading this first, though, does help explain certain character traits in the later books so it's not a total waste of time, but I think that "Divine Secrets" can totally be enjoyed without reading this one if you'd rather be left with a "feel good" feeling instead of feeling frustrated and helpless to help the characters, then annoyed when certain instances from the book are altered or deleted from the sequels since it changes how you feel about Vivi ultimately.