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The Whitsun Daughters

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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. Watchi 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.


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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. Watchi 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.

30 review for The Whitsun Daughters

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    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!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

    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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Boldon

    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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kai (CuriousCompass)

    Carrie Mesrobian? Check. Ghosts? Check. Family Lineage? Check. With Dark Secrets™? DOUBLE CHECK. I. Need. This. Book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Clementine

    What a gem of a book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Shannongibney

    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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Koloze

    The masturbation scenes don’t deflect from the plot’s abortion; rename this novel “Teens Who Kill.” The masturbation scenes in Mesrobian’s novel are titillating but not as remarkable as the euphemisms hiding the chemical abortion plot. Of course, the scenes which abuse male sexual power are meant for the sexually immature (teens or young adult readers). Serious readers (everybody else) can use Mesrobian’s fiction as yet more evidence of the linguistic gymnastics, if not duplicity, which pro-abort The masturbation scenes don’t deflect from the plot’s abortion; rename this novel “Teens Who Kill.” The masturbation scenes in Mesrobian’s novel are titillating but not as remarkable as the euphemisms hiding the chemical abortion plot. Of course, the scenes which abuse male sexual power are meant for the sexually immature (teens or young adult readers). Serious readers (everybody else) can use Mesrobian’s fiction as yet more evidence of the linguistic gymnastics, if not duplicity, which pro-abortion characters use to promote a practice which harms mothers, kills unborn children (whether surgically or, as in this case, chemically with abortifacients), and alienates fathers. The euphemisms to refer to the killing practice called “abortion” are numerous. Daisy, a main character, expresses surprise that “the things required to unmake a pregnancy would be sold someplace as ordinary as Walmart” (84). “Unmake a pregnancy”? Why the euphemism? You mean abortion, right? Daisy’s claim that her aunt “knows someone who—” (87) with the dash indicating that the sentence is unfinished is a literary technique other writers have used to hide the fact that characters are talking about, yet again, abortion. The chemical killing of Lilah’s unborn child is discussed with the usual impersonal third-person pronouns and deceptive language. “It’s starting”, Poppy says, using “it” to refer to the abortion (155). Poppy “explained […] that it would be slowly happening now, the lining shedding in layers of blood and tissue” (157). “It”, of course, refers to the abortion, and “the lining shedding” obscures the fact that it is not only “the lining” which is “shedding” but the unborn child him- or herself who is being killed by “shedding” along with the “lining” and “tissue.” Daisy’s boyfriend Hugh asks if her sister is “not-pregnant” (160). The narrator records Daisy’s reactions that “whatever lived inside in Lilah began its descent” (162). Translation: the dead body of the unborn child, now separated from his or her warm and life-giving uterus and therefore dead, is being passed out of that uterus, thanks to an abortifacient drug which his or her aunt gave to his or her mother. (Yeah, nonsexist language is cumbersome but must be used to be fair to the unborn child character who may be one of the two genders.) One character’s Freudian slip—“to get rid of the baby” (174)—is quickly covered by deceptive abortion language a page later when Lilah talks about what some mothers did to “expel the contents of the uterus” (175). Just like other abortion novels, whether written for teens or adults, post-abortion syndrome is obvious even here, in a novel whose characters clearly do not advance pro-life ideas and are hostile to religious persons who are pro-life. Typical of mothers who have aborted, Lilah seems happy after her abortion (197). Jane’s last reminiscence, however, which closes the novel, suggests that Lilah suffers from post-abortion syndrome: “She thinks of the babe she did not have; she ponders names late at night in bed, her eyes on the once-fractured seam in the celling. When I watch her, I find myself remembering what I cannot reclaim. It is the closest I can come to human pain now” (208). This is not literary evidence of abortion which is supposed to make a woman happy. It is, obviously, literary evidence of post-abortion syndrome. Overall, even though the author is most likely a leftist and pro-abortion Democrat (same thing; consult her Twitter feed), Mesrobian’s work could suggest a fascinating paper for a student to write about the dishonest language which abortion-minded characters and authors use to dehumanize the unborn child, to suppress evidence of post-abortion syndrome, and to ignore the role of the father. Just make sure your professor is pro-life and not a feminist hag who thinks abortion is the only choice for an untimely pregnancy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Keri

    Well here is a case where maybe my desire to go into books mostly blind backfired. All I read was this was a ghost story, along with the semi-creepy cover/mysterious cover and I was in. What I was in for did not match what I was expecting. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it much. To me this was not a ghost story, and if the synopsis hadn’t told me one character was a ghost, I would never have known. I even read the synopsis at the end to double check. This was more a clipping out of these two sets Well here is a case where maybe my desire to go into books mostly blind backfired. All I read was this was a ghost story, along with the semi-creepy cover/mysterious cover and I was in. What I was in for did not match what I was expecting. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like it much. To me this was not a ghost story, and if the synopsis hadn’t told me one character was a ghost, I would never have known. I even read the synopsis at the end to double check. This was more a clipping out of these two sets of characters lives, each set in a different timeline. It felt like a quiet story where nothing really happens besides some serious events in all these girls’ lives, many surrounding sexuality and how it’s presented and/or pushed on people, women especially. I wonder if I wouldn’t liked it more going into it with the correct mindset...but as it was, I felt interested enough to finish listening, but kind of bored.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zoe and MB

    This was a really interesting book. At first I thought it would have a similar theme to little women, where it was a story about 3 girls(two sisters and one cousin) and their lives. While this was one of the storylines, there was another that took place in the past, about a woman and her marriage. It was very interesting and had a lot of plot twists. This was a very fast book, that took place over only a couple of days. It was very interesting, but had some topics and scenes that didn’t sit righ This was a really interesting book. At first I thought it would have a similar theme to little women, where it was a story about 3 girls(two sisters and one cousin) and their lives. While this was one of the storylines, there was another that took place in the past, about a woman and her marriage. It was very interesting and had a lot of plot twists. This was a very fast book, that took place over only a couple of days. It was very interesting, but had some topics and scenes that didn’t sit right with me. Something I don’t see in many books that I enjoyed in this one was how the characters openly talked about sex and their bodies. Altogether this was a well written book, but some parts of it I personally didn’t enjoy. Tw: abortion, pregnancy, cheating, death, inc3st, r*pe

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    I started out really enjoying this book, good characters and interesting storylines, but things change midway through. I will not spoil the story for any readers with specific details. Towards the middle there are some disturbing events and the way the characters deal or don’t deal with them are even more infuriating. Towards the end it was challenging to keep up with the multiple storylines and I feel it ended too abruptly. I seriously had to check my phone to make sure I hadn’t accidentally hi I started out really enjoying this book, good characters and interesting storylines, but things change midway through. I will not spoil the story for any readers with specific details. Towards the middle there are some disturbing events and the way the characters deal or don’t deal with them are even more infuriating. Towards the end it was challenging to keep up with the multiple storylines and I feel it ended too abruptly. I seriously had to check my phone to make sure I hadn’t accidentally hit the fast forward button.

  12. 4 out of 5

    A'Llyn Ettien

    A nice, moody story of women's lives in the past and the modern day.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Micaela

    The phrase "unusual family of women" almost guarantees I'll read it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wendopolis

    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.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shonna Froebel

    https://cdnbookworm.blogspot.com/2020... https://cdnbookworm.blogspot.com/2020...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beckie Wendorf

    For a full review visit: www.compassbookratings.com For a full review visit: www.compassbookratings.com

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This book was EVERYTHING. I absolutely could not put it down.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Luna

    *1.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angela

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Burke Burke

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tali Sanchez

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Louise

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lilly Siska

  26. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tina

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brianna Donato

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

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