What it’s about: The Tumbling Turner Sisters is an account of four sisters and their entrepreneuring mother who, when finances get tight due to an accident, hit the road as vaudeville tumblers. The story follows the Turner sisters as they hop from small town stage to small town stage during 1919, encountering entertaining characters, racism, romance, heartbreak, and deception along the way. The Sisters face it all with loyalty and defiance, and you’ll find yourself disappointed to reach the end of this act.
Why I liked it: This was a fun and lighthearted read. The sisters have wonderful, strong, and lovable personalities, and their relationships with each other and their mother didn’t feel contrived. I was particularly drawn in by the strong sense of historical grounding in the book; every detail was intentional and well-researched. Fay drew in compelling references to timely events like the Great Molasses Flood in Boston, the fight for women’s suffrage, and the wave of KKK support a la The Birth of a Nation to immerse readers in the culture of the early 1900s. Mindful readers will be delighted to find small ‘Easter eggs,’ like the subtle cameo appearance of Cary Grant under his original name, scattered throughout the book. It’s a wonderful read with a lot of heart, and a perfect window into a little-known era.
Audience: Teen to adult
Read if you liked:
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen