In The Words Of Mumbo-Gumbo…Ya-Ya! — Divining The Secrets Of The Sisterhood

Not really, but that title came to me while I was in the shower and I thought it was catchy.

So…Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

Before I get into this gripe of mine, let me make something clear:  I absolutely loved the book AND the movie.  I first read the book ten years ago (holy crap–ten years!  I read it just before the movie came out) and found it to be amazing (of course, I read Little Alters Everywhere first–also good).  I was really impressed with how closely the movie followed the book.  Sure, some changes were made, but as far as adaptations go, this is definitely one of the better ones and I can still watch it and be moved by it all these years later.

But here’s my beef, and it’s a beef that only just occurred to me.  If you’ve never experienced the Ya-Yas…well, I can’t help you.  Read the book, see the movie, they’ve both been out for years.


The beef–Sidda is kidnapped by the Ya-Yas (excluding her mother, Vivi) to explain why Vivi is the way she is.  Basically, they want to explain/justify why her mother was always so horrible, both to her children and her husband.  And that was because she didn’t have the life she dreamed about.  Well, boo-fucking-hoo.  How many  have the lives they dreamt of? Almost no one.  Does that give people the right to treat their spouses and children badly?  Hell no.  But the Ya-Yas drug and kidnap Sidda to explain why Vivi is throwing a hissy-fit about an article written about Sidda and her new play.

There’s no denying that Vivi had a bitch of a time of it, but none of that is the fault of Shep, Sidda, or the other children.  And yet, they all pay for Vivi’s unhappiness.  Vivi screams at Shep, she takes pills and hallucinates and beats her kids, she runs off because she’s tired of being a mother; she basically forced Sidda to be the grown up when she only a little bitty thing; she cooked dinner, read to her siblings, kept them settled when her parents were fighting, and to comfort her mother when she was being melodramatic.

And yet, the Ya-Yas think that it’s Sidda that needs to understand her mother.  I think it’s Vivi that needs to understand her daughter/children.  The Ya-Yas defend Vivi’s actions to the death–they constantly insist that Sidda doesn’t know anything (ie–Sidda mentions Vivi beating the shit out of the kids, and the Ya-Yas are so aghast that Sidda doesn’t realize there were other factors involved).  When it comes down to it–while, it might help Sidda to know WHY it happened, as a kid (even a grown-up kid), all she has to know is that she was beaten senseless by someone she was supposed to be able to trust with her life, that her mother abandoned, that her mother never seemed to want her.  That’s all a kid ever has to know–the justifications parents/their friends want to give for that sort of behavior can’t be an excuse for the behavior.  That sort of things scars kids, and parents have to live with that knowledge.  But I think that making it seem like Sidda just doesn’t get her mother is a really crappy thing to do.  She was a kid–all she was supposed to do was be a kid.

I suppose I take this personally because I am the child of a parent who was never happy with her lot in life and wasn’t opposed to blaming it all on her children.

Maybe they should have explained to Sidda what happened, but they should have just made sure that Vivi got down on her hands and knees to beg for forgiveness.   Sidda shouldn’t have been concerned that her mother was hurting because her past transgressions were brought to light; all she should have worried about was that her mother hurt her and never apologized.

That said, I still love this story.  I think it says a lot that it can get me this riled up, actually.  Good for you, Rebecca Wells.  Good for you.


~ by raspychick on August 20, 2012.

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