The Whitsun Daughters
From a critically acclaimed author, a twisty and gorgeously written YA ghost story about young women separated by centuries but connected by a desire to control their futures. Read an excerpt below! I am no longer a creature, yet my habits remain. My desires, still the old ones. Lurking amidst the brush, watching squirrels collect acorns and deer drink from puddles. Watching my girls. I am allowed pleasure here, too, despite the warnings of the Bible my mother loved so well. It is pleasure, and my delight, to see my girls, their skin supple and sweating, their mouths eating, their fists clamping over their hips as their legs bend and stretch over the earth. The work of bodies never ends. I particularly like their hair, how it grows long and shaggy until lopped off by one of their mothers, the priestly one whose thoughts swirl like perfume in lilac time; she finds such joyful thrift in snipping the little girls’ tresses. Where I had watched Patrick feed Arthur Ganey’s horses is now a kitchen with an unlikely polished floor; over what was dirt and hay, the priestly mother sweeps up the girls’ lost tresses—gold, white, mahogany. The priestly one’s sister, a midwife, makes each daughter gulp down spoonfuls of castor and fish oil; one year, they each suffered needle jabs, given for their own good. Their tears brimmed and they winced under the puncture, their betrayed howls ringing out through the open windows.The palomino girl loves so harshly; she sees everything as a prize to be won or lost. The unicorn girl’s love ripples uncontained; her soul is flimsy, easily stained by sadness or goaded into laughter. The dark bay foal, who has since become steady on her feet in a manner that I envy, rushes through the brush. She is a thirsty creature. I ache when I see her touch the cool water at the bottom of the ravine where Patrick liked to wash.A house helmed by two sisters, and their three daughters. The mothers’ love, borne of their sister pact, has made a world where no men ever deigned to rule. The daughters’ love at times is heavy, a pail of milk to a waiting hand; other times, easy as a hairbrush before Sunday service. It is most visible in their hands: what they make and toss away, what they strive to hold. I watch for restfulness. The after hours of tables cleared and dishes washed and floors swept and pencils and needles jabbing at paper and cloth; here their thick love dreams and wraps over each other, like hair in a braid. This reminds me of my own sister, and I recall my beating heart, strong beneath my chemise, galloping in grief for her. I think of my own hair—long gone, a cat’s cradle for the faeries—and the relief of unwinding it each night, the burden heavy no more. I think of my own hands and what they learned about desire.How quickly everything in God’s world disintegrates. Everything but the loneliness of young women.

The Whitsun Daughters Details

TitleThe Whitsun Daughters
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 25th, 2020
PublisherDutton
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Ghosts, Teen, Magical Realism

The Whitsun Daughters Review

  • Sammy
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book for review from Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review. At first, I really liked this book! I loved the alternating POVs, with one person being in first person and the other in third person, it really solidified the vibe of someone watching them. I also thought it was cool to go back and forth between past and present to see how life progresses. I thought the writing was really good and the tonal change from past to present was also well done. The characters I received a copy of this book for review from Penguin Teen in exchange for an honest review. At first, I really liked this book! I loved the alternating POVs, with one person being in first person and the other in third person, it really solidified the vibe of someone watching them. I also thought it was cool to go back and forth between past and present to see how life progresses. I thought the writing was really good and the tonal change from past to present was also well done. The characters were all interesting, although I didn't get much time to get to know Violet or Carna. Daisy was a sweet character, but I was worried for her. Watching her pine after Hugh, her cousin's ex-boyfriend, was sad. Especially since he is 19 and she is 15. The age gap was really concerning for me - and then we get a revelation and I was disturbed. Before the last 25% of this book, I was really enjoying it. I probably would have rated it higher. But after a certain reveal about two characters, it really grossed me out. Then we also add on the age gap between Daisy and Hugh, which is gross. And the writing itself got harder to understand. By the end of the book, I wasn't sure what had actually happened, but if my understanding is correct, it's really gross. And sad. So I have to drop my score due to an almost promotion of some concerning ideals, plus the fact that the storyteller became so cryptic I couldn't even understand what was going on anymore. I was left confused with a lot of additional questions. SPOILERS!!!!So the concerning topic I was not only confused, but worried about, was the accusation and hint that Hugh and Poppy are half siblings. Daisy, who is Poppy's first cousin, effectively slept with her cousin who is also 19. While I'm all for taking back sex and being free, a 15 year old sleeping with a 19 year old, who is not only Poppy's ex, but potentially her brother, is really gross. And it really disturbed me. Plus, the fact that the book ends with our ghost somewhat confirming this allegation, but being so incoherent with it it's hard to tell, was off putting. I really enjoyed the book and the original message, but the ending was so off putting it ruined the book for me.
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  • Vanessa
    January 1, 1970
    This is a beautiful and atmospheric story which alternates between the ghost of a woman from the 1800's telling her own story, and her descendants, three teenage girls, coming of age in modern times. It is bold and unashamed in its portrayals of the things many young girls experience growing up, and speaks plainly about things like menstruation, sex, and pregnancy. The story connects the women of this family with those experiences they have in common, even though they live centuries apart. I rea This is a beautiful and atmospheric story which alternates between the ghost of a woman from the 1800's telling her own story, and her descendants, three teenage girls, coming of age in modern times. It is bold and unashamed in its portrayals of the things many young girls experience growing up, and speaks plainly about things like menstruation, sex, and pregnancy. The story connects the women of this family with those experiences they have in common, even though they live centuries apart. I really enjoyed the writing style of this book. It was atmospheric and moody, and the writing was poetic, while still maintaining a sense that the author was speaking plainly about things. I especially loved this directness when it came to topics that most authors skirt around with vague and flowery inferences. I loved the idea of a ghost watching her descendants grow up just as she did, but in a different time and a different way. The characters felt very real and many of the youngest sister, Daisy's, experiences and feelings rang true for me. There are definitely some questionable events happening in this story (particularly a sexual relationship between a 15 year old and a 19 year old), and some of it made me uncomfortable because I could never tell if the story was aware of itself there or not. On the other hand, I do feel that the uncomfortable feeling, and the uncertainty around what's ok and what's not, is something that so many young girls have to feel while growing up, and it's presence in this story, whether intentionally or not, added to the theme for me. My only complaint would be, again, the fact that some questionable things are not fully addressed. I also think the marketing might be a little off calling this a "ghost" story when really it's just narrated by a woman from the past. But overall, it was a gorgeous and captivating read.Thank you Penguin Teen for the Netgalley ARC!
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  • Kristin Boldon
    January 1, 1970
    I would have loved to have this book as a teen, in the pre-internet days. My main source of information about sex and my body was from books, and there were so few realistic teens in what I read, and even fewer that had frank portrayals of the push/pull of teen sexuality. Mesrobian intertwines two timelines, a past narrated by a ghost who was a child bride to a distant Midwestern farmer, and a present in which the ghost observes a trio of teen cousins (The Whitsun Daughters of the title) who str I would have loved to have this book as a teen, in the pre-internet days. My main source of information about sex and my body was from books, and there were so few realistic teens in what I read, and even fewer that had frank portrayals of the push/pull of teen sexuality. Mesrobian intertwines two timelines, a past narrated by a ghost who was a child bride to a distant Midwestern farmer, and a present in which the ghost observes a trio of teen cousins (The Whitsun Daughters of the title) who struggle to understand boys, sex, menstruation and more in a modern midwestern farm town. There is an impressive amount of background history. In the past, there is infidelity, immigration, and strange cures for madness. In the present, there are secrets upon secrets, layered over two generations. What I liked best about the book was its depiction of teen desire, as well as the matter-of-fact portrayal of teen bodies, menstruation, and sex.
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  • Shannongibney
    January 1, 1970
    This gorgeously written historical novel about three sisters and the mysterious nineteenth century ghost who haunts their dreams and house will have you enthralled from start to finish. The book is downright atmospheric -- I couldn't put it down. The characters are also intriguing, as are their relationships with each other. An unabashedly feminist book, the frank scenes about first periods, misplaced tampons, Diva Cups, and teenage sex had me laughing and gasping for air, they were so engaging This gorgeously written historical novel about three sisters and the mysterious nineteenth century ghost who haunts their dreams and house will have you enthralled from start to finish. The book is downright atmospheric -- I couldn't put it down. The characters are also intriguing, as are their relationships with each other. An unabashedly feminist book, the frank scenes about first periods, misplaced tampons, Diva Cups, and teenage sex had me laughing and gasping for air, they were so engaging and surprising. Can't emphasize how much you don't want to miss this one, folks. I really enjoyed it.
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  • Kai (CuriousCompass)
    January 1, 1970
    Carrie Mesrobian? Check. Ghosts? Check. Family Lineage? Check. With Dark Secrets™? DOUBLE CHECK.I. Need. This. Book.
  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    The writing in this book was superb. It was very atmospheric and beautiful. The sisters/cousins were written well as sisters, the dynamics were there (view spoiler)[ except for the whole sleeping with your sister's ex scenario (hide spoiler)] and felt true. The mothers/aunts were the worst parent figures almost in the history of fiction. (view spoiler)[ If you know your child may be the half-sibling of their boyfriend, you tell them. You get over your own past and deal with it and tell them. ( The writing in this book was superb. It was very atmospheric and beautiful. The sisters/cousins were written well as sisters, the dynamics were there (view spoiler)[ except for the whole sleeping with your sister's ex scenario (hide spoiler)] and felt true. The mothers/aunts were the worst parent figures almost in the history of fiction. (view spoiler)[ If you know your child may be the half-sibling of their boyfriend, you tell them. You get over your own past and deal with it and tell them. (hide spoiler)]My other disappointment with this book is probably my own fault. My expectations of this book were that the ghost of the past had actual interactions and was helpful to the girls on the present. Except for one weird dream sequence, this was not the case. While I enjoyed both perspectives of past and present I am sad there were not interactions.
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  • Micaela
    January 1, 1970
    The phrase "unusual family of women" almost guarantees I'll read it.
  • Clementine
    January 1, 1970
    What a gem of a book.
  • Wendopolis
    January 1, 1970
    This was a waste of my time. While the writing was beautiful, there was no plot. Nothing was at stake and the daughters were all incredibly unlike able and flat.
  • Shonna Froebel
    January 1, 1970
    https://cdnbookworm.blogspot.com/2020... https://cdnbookworm.blogspot.com/2020...
  • Beckie Wendorf
    January 1, 1970
    For a full review visit: www.compassbookratings.com For a full review visit: www.compassbookratings.com
  • Alex
    January 1, 1970
    This book was EVERYTHING. I absolutely could not put it down.
  • Luna
    January 1, 1970
    *1.5 stars
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