Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood - by Rebecca Wells

Siddalee (aka Sidda) Walker didn't intend to portray her mother (Vivi) as "a tap-dancing child abuser" when she was interviewed by a New York Times reporter after directing a hit play. The article, not surprisingly, however, causes an estrangement between the two women, which in turn causes Siddalee to postpone her upcoming wedding and do some soul searching. She retreats to a cabin in Washington state and attempts to get some insight into her mother (and herself) via Vivi's scrapbook, and through the "Ya-Yas," her mother's three lifelong friends.

I got almost all the way to the end of this book believing I would not be writing a blog post about it, but on page 341 of this 356-page book there appeared a library reference that could not be ignored. On her homecoming for Vivi's birthday Sidda considers all the things her relations had to face during the standoff
Sidda knew the scenes they'd had to witness down there in the thick of things: Baylor refusing to represent Vivi in a lawsuit against Sidda. Vivi's letters, sent certified mail to everyone in the extended family, announcing that she had disowned her oldest daughter. Vivi's highly publicized...firing of the lawyer who'd represented the Walkers for decades because he dared advise her to think it over before she cut Sidda out of her will. Vivi's monthlong attempt o reach Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, to give him a piece of her mind. Vivi's wild attempt to force the Garnet Parish Library to burn their issue-and the microfiche- of the New York Times that carried the offending article. Then Vivi's desperate cancellation of her library card when they refused. And of course her delight in the subterfuge when she later reapplied for a card under an assumed name.
So much going on here with the attempted censorship and attempted blackmail. Of course today burning a single copy of a newspaper (or all copies in town for that matter), would not prevent people from reading an article published in a national newspaper which is now available online. Even so, it was good to read that even this fictitious would-be censor was thwarted by the librarians, who were certainly not going to change their minds over a patron's decision to cancel her card! Likewise they were probably not fooled when she used an alias to apply for a new card. This passage not only illustrates the power of the public library, but the necessity of it as well. Vivi's deception in applying for another card, even after she has expressed her anger toward the library demonstrates just how important libraries are. Library cards are like keys for unlocking information.

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