Book Review: The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream by Jeannie Zusy

Posted September 20, 2022 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 32 Comments

The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Jeannie Zusy
Publication Date September 20, 2022
Published by Simon and Schuster
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / Siblings, Fiction / Humorous / General, Fiction / Women
Pages: 320
Format: ARC

***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.***

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine meets Early Morning Riser with a dash of Where’d You Go, Bernadette in this very funny, occasionally romantic, and surprisingly moving novel about how one woman’s life is turned upside down when she becomes caregiver to her sister with special needs.

Every family has its fault lines, and when Maggie gets a call from the ER in Maryland where her older sister lives, the cracks start to appear. Ginny, her sugar-loving and diabetic older sister with intellectual disabilities, has overdosed on strawberry Jell-O.

Maggie knows Ginny really can’t live on her own, so she brings her sister and her occasionally vicious dog to live near her in upstate New York. Their other sister, Betsy, is against the idea but as a professional surfer, she is conveniently thousands of miles away.

Thus, Maggie’s life as a caretaker begins. It will take all of her dark humor and patience, already spread thin after a separation, raising two boys, freelancing, and starting a dating life, to deal with Ginny’s diapers, sugar addiction, porn habit, and refusal to cooperate. Add two devoted but feuding immigrant aides and a soon-to-be ex-husband who just won’t go away, and you’ve got a story that will leave you laughing through your tears as you wonder who is actually taking care of whom.

Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream by Jeannie Zusy is a look at a woman who is a caretaker to her sister with intellectual disabilities.  It’s emotional, funny, and a bit chaotic, but totally worthwhile reading. 

Maggie is the youngest of three sisters and lives just outside of New York City with her two almost adult sons.  Betsy is the oldest and is living the dream out in California, running a surfing school.  Ginny is the middle child and she is diabetic and has intellectual disabilities and lives independently in Maryland where the family grew up.   

When Maggie gets a call that her sister, Ginny is in the hospital,  she doesn’t hesitate to drop everything and go help her.  But, when she gets to Maryland, she realizes that Ginny needs more help than she expected.  She decides to bring her to New York where she can live closer.  But, Maggie has her own chaotic life.  She’s separated from her husband and trying to date while raising two boys and keeping up with her freelance job.  

Maggie is far from perfect and makes her own mistakes in her life, but her love for her sister is never in question.  I liked how the book demonstrated both the highs and lows of being a caretaker.  Ginny was my favorite character.  She was always so frank, and her observations of the family were sometimes right on point.  

The writing was a stream of consciousness from the main character, Maggie.  We all find out how her actions affect others around her at the same time she does.  I thought the middle was a bit slow, but it was also full of the frustrations and challenges of caring for an adult with intellectual disabilities and day-to-day family issues.  

Overall this is a heartwarming story about the difficulties of being a caretaker, a mother, a wife, and a sister, and still trying to be her own person.  

I highly recommend The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream to anyone who enjoys heartwarming fiction.  I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Jeannie Zusy

Jeannie Zusy has written many full-length plays, some screenplays and several stories. The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream is her first novel. She has two young-adult daughters and lives with her husband and creatures in New York’s Hudson River Valley.

Have you read The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream? Does it interest you?

32 responses to “Book Review: The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream by Jeannie Zusy

  1. This sounds good. There are actually a lot of people who find themselves in the caregiver role. It must be particularly hard to do that while managing to allow the loved one to maintain self-respect and safe independence.

  2. Being a caretaker is never easy especially when it involves caring for an adult. Glad to see you enjoyed this one. Thanks for sharing.