The Secret Sisters (Harper Collins) opens with Pia Ramone’s husband keeling over at one of Houston’s glitzier black-tie-and-tails affairs—a cringe-inducing lapse into melodrama. But Joni Rodgers, best known for her memoir, Bald in the Land of Big Hair, regains her footing in time to craft a modern tragedy that joins Pia’s devastating grief to her upper-middle-class family’s other, larger troubles. Sister Lily is in prison for a tipsy car wreck that killed Easter, her and Pia’s niece. Sister-in-law Beth is predictably numbed by her daughter’s death but still dutifully appears at Lily’s parole hearings to appeal for leniency. Years pass. Things get better, things get worse. Rodgers wisely resists the temptation to whip up tidy endings for the tragic trio, and her smart choices give The Secret Sisters the necessary measure of grit to make it safely home again.
From the February 2006 Issue Subscribe