"The Almost Archer Sisters" by Lisa Gabriele

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Georgia “Peachy” Archer learns a lot about herself over a weekend in which she takes an impromptu trip from her home in rural Canada to New York. She takes this trip under false pretenses, although the pretenses are not her own doing. We ardently want the best outcome for this character, but in the end, I felt torn between a couple of different outcomes, any one of which would be fine. Such is the balance and artistry on display.

Peachy Archer, now Mrs. Laliberté, has a husband and two young sons, one of whom is sick. Her glamorous sister Beth has the looks, the fame, and the addictions that Peachy never aspired to. Beth’s dazzling New York success seduces Peachy’s two impressionable sons. And her history with Peachy’s husband adds to the general disruption when she comes for one of her regular visits. Peachy and Beth briefly collaborate on a plan to get back at Beth’s ex-boyfriend (the false pretenses part), but events take an unexpected direction when Peachy heads for New York unaccompanied.

The Almost Archer Sisters bulges with family: family history, family failure and strife, tough love, and shocking weakness. Peachy, at one point an aggrieved party, flirts with a beautiful, appealing man and with the possibility of forbidden fruit, all the while knowing very well the needs of those who depend on her. This story has a highly unusual balance – a reflecting quality. Peachy’s yang dynamically anchors Beth’s yin, and we see some of Beth’s fast-lane influence on Peachy during Peachy’s excursion. This centrifugal balance drives the narrative, pulling our emotions along for the suspenseful ride.

Ms. Gabriele takes her heroine on a journey, a richly dramatic one, and she treats the reader with laugh-out-loud comic touches throughout. This book shows the author’s power and assuredness with a fraught family situation; it never approaches anything cloying, and holds a ton of promise for Peachy, the heroine. This story soars, it delights, and it rewards the lucky reader. Well done!
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