“The Almost Archer Sisters” by Lisa Gabriele

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 26, 2008

Lisa Gabriele’s The Almost Archer Sisters (Simon & Schuster, 272 pages, $14) is being promoted as chick lit. But if readers can get past the heaving book jacket and the heroine’s cutesy name (Peachy), they will be treated to a novel that’s as easy to read as your average chick-lit pick, but with much more substance and heart.

Georgia Peach Archer has always felt second best compared to her beautiful, thin and rich half-sister Beth.  She even married Beth’s high school boyfriend Beau — partly because she loved him, but also because Beth showed signs of jealousy that Peachy had someone who was once hers.

The two sisters could not be more different. Beth left their home in Canada as quickly as possible to go to college in New York. She showed little remorse that their father had to sell off some of his farm to pay for her education (and later breast implants). Meanwhile Peachy remained at home, dropping out of school when she got pregnant by Beau and wondering what life outside of her little world might be like.

While Beth travels the world eating exotic foods and meeting handsome, unsuitable men, Peachy takes care of her husband, children and hippie father. But Peachy’s world is rocked when dependable Beau cheats on her. Trying to explain away his one-night stand, he says, “I swear, it didn’t mean anything.” With understated common sense, Peachy replies, “Why do people say that? It means everything.”

The dialogue between the characters in The Almost Archer Sisters is superb. Gabriele has a knack for capturing conversations in a truthful way that is both poignant and humorous.

While it would be easy to vilify selfish and self-centered Beth, Gabriele adds depth to the character and shows readers that desperation can happen to the best of us. When the two sisters get to live a bit of each other’s lives, it’s not played for farce. Rather, their experiences open not only each others’ eyes, but also those of the readers.

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