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The Lapone Sisters Reviewed by Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
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Norm Goldman --  bookpleasures.com Norm Goldman -- bookpleasures.com
Montreal, QC
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

 

Narratives about coming of age and how conflict touches the lives of young people are pretty familiar and never grow old.

In Barry Wilker's debut novel, The Lapone Sisters, we follow four young women's lives, three of whom are sisters

The setting is Nashville, Tennessee and the underlying theme of the tale is how these women develop solid personalities and show that they can transform positively when confronted with conflict.

You can't help wanting to know them better, and all are likable in their own way, and, yes, we are concerned about the potential risks they pose to themselves.

The story opens with Schmellda Lapone, who subsequently uses the nickname Shell. Readers are transported back to 1944 to the city of her mother's birth, Bucharest, Romania. Shell details how her grandfather, aunts, and her uncles from her mother's family were wiped out during a bombing raid in World War II.

Her mother, who was twenty, and her grandmother survived and ultimately fled to the United States as stowaways on an American freighter camouflaged as a Turkish shipping vessel. 

The ship had been transporting goods and weapons to the Romanian resistance fighters. One of the crew's members was sympathetic to her mother and grandmother's plight and provided them with a hiding spot without divulging to anyone that they were stowaways on board.

Fast forward to June 16, 1976, where we hear more about twenty-three-year-old Shell. She is a recent graduate from Middle Tennessee University with a bachelor's degree in home economics. We are told she will start a new job at a real estate firm shortly.

Shell further lets us know she enjoys particular passions she discovered while working on her degree, but they are on hold for now.

We next meet her two sisters, who have always been her best friends. First, there is her middle sister, twenty-year-old Sorina Luna. She just completed a two-year program at Belmont College in Nashville. And then her youngest sister, Esmerelda Una, who shortens her name to Esme. Esme just finished high school and is a stutterer. She wears a tiny harmonica around her neck to ease her with her speech.

Also introduced is Helena Montgomery, who could be labeled as the town's beauty. Helena works at the People's Bank and has some serious emotional issues. She is obsessed with her image and goes to unimaginable lengths to enhance her breasts and derriere. She even puts on a fake French accent. 

The turning moment in each of these characters' lives arises when there is a robbery at the People's Bank. Helena and Sorina were both shot and ended up in the same hospital. 

Simultaneously, this is the same hospital where the Lapone sisters' mother, Yvonna, was admitted on the same day as the robbery. A hawk had plunged through the kitchen window of Yvonna's home while she was watching a bit of a chipmunk on the windowsill. The bird struck Yvonna on the forehead, causing her to bleed profusely and winding up in the hospital for repairs. Sadly, the hawk and the chipmunk did not survive the ordea

Some hilarious scenes are thrown into the novel when Esme's boyfriend, Ricky Baker, comes up with an extraordinary invention, The Waxing Pony. The apparatus comprises injecting a block of wax into the underbelly of a mechanical horse. A participant who wants to have a waxing of their body mounts the mechanical horse. While it rocks up and down, hot wax is discharged, draining through the holes and waxing every body part. Quite a gadget!

Wilker, who spent forty-three years working as an interior designer for dozens of clients across the United States, masterfully applies his observant know how in seamlessly interweaving several sketches into the story. These scenes capture interesting experiences and defining attributes of the primary figures that display slices of their lives. Although the story's plot runs thin, a sense of character prevails, capturing the time when the pressure to change can be staggering.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Barry Wilker

 Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Norm Goldman
Title: Book Reviewer
Group: bookpleasures.com
Dateline: Montreal, QC Canada
Direct Phone: 514-486-8018
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