Book Review: The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin

Posted January 20, 2023 by WendyW in Book Review, bookblogger / 42 Comments

The Sisters We Were
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

by Wendy Willis Baldwin
Publication Date January 17, 2023
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Genres: Fiction / Family Life / General, Fiction / Medical, Fiction / Women
Pages: 400
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.***

"Readers will be eager for more." —Booklist

"An insightful and empathetic view into the daily struggles of living with obesity. A solid entry for titles with plus-sized heroines." —Library Journal

Pearl and Ruby's choices drove them apart.

Finding their way back to each other might be the only way forward.

The weight of their family secrets could not have shaped Pearl and Ruby Crenshaw any differently. Ruby's a runner, living in Dallas and only reluctantly talking to their mother, Birdie, when she calls from prison. Pearl is still living in her mother's fixer-upper and finds herself facing a line in the sand: her weight is threatening to kill her. She's hundreds of pounds beyond the point where she can celebrate her curves or benefit from the body positivity movement, and unless she takes drastic action, the future looks dire.

But when Ruby's buried rage explodes in a hilariously viral way, the mistake has life-altering consequences. Now the sisters are back living under the same roof and forced to put the pieces of their separate lives together again. Funny, cinematic, and bursting with heart, this is a story of hope and redemption that celebrates the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood.

"A moving story of sisters and their unbreakable bond that spans a lifetime. Both hilarious and heartfelt, Baldwin brings to life characters that not only amuse us but stay with us long after the story is told. With this delightful and meaningful debut, Wendy Willis Baldwin is definitely an author to watch." —Angela Pisel, author of With Love from the Inside

The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin is an emotional story about two sisters who grew up together, but couldn’t be more different as adults.  

Story Recap:

Pearl still lives in her mother’s home while her mother serves a long prison sentence for manslaughter.  Her weight has crept up to a deadly number and Pearl knows it’s time for drastic measures.  

Ruby has a rage-fueled incident that goes viral and has her suddenly jobless.  She goes home to stay with Pearl until she can get back on her feet and help Pearl recover from weight loss surgery.  Ruby hasn’t been home in years and refuses to communicate with their mother, Birdie, who is in prison.  

My Thoughts: 

This story is mainly about Pearl and her weight loss journey, and her transformation.  Pearl, Ruby, and their mother, Birdie all have some family secrets, and it’s these secrets that are keeping them from living their best lives.  

The book is very detailed about Pearl’s weight loss journey and her surgery. It gets just a bit too in-depth at times about the surgery and all the preparation for the surgery.   But what I loved is that the book emphasizes the importance of all the care before and after the surgery, and all the work, both mental and physical that must go with the surgery.  

It’s the characters that really made the book.  Pearl is so brave and has such a giving and generous spirit.  Ruby is very intense, but she loves Pearl and she learns she has to deal with her issues in order to live a better life too.  And I  just loved Pearl’s boss a the assisted living center, Perry.  He’s a breath of fresh air and just the kind of guy you’d want as a best friend.  


I highly recommend The Sisters We Were to anyone who enjoys women’s fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book.  The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

About Wendy Willis Baldwin

Author and freelance writer Wendy Willis Baldwin is a natural born storyteller. Her communications background includes broadcasting, marketing, talk radio, and sales. A native of Texas and a graduate of Texas Tech University, Wendy is a recent empty nester now living on a farm in New England, with one husband, three dogs, and thousands of honeybees. She is the co-host of the Life After Fat Pants Podcast. Her novel, The Sisters We Were, is available for pre-order now

Have you read The Sisters We Were?

42 responses to “Book Review: The Sisters We Were by Wendy Willis Baldwin

  1. What a struggle for Pearl! There is a lot more to weight loss surgery that a lot don’t realize. It’s nice that the sisters were able to mend fences and get close again.

  2. That sounds like an interesting book – great review! I love it when books go into detail about things, but it needs to balance with the rest of the story otherwise my interest can be lost!

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Great review. It sounds like a book with a message – and an uncommon one. Can’t remember ever hearing about a book where a main character has this surgery. I have a girlfriend who went through it years ago and has managed to stay healthy and keep the weight off, which isn’t always the case. I’ve added it to my wish list for the right time/mood.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

  4. The details of the surgery are something that might make me squeamish but I think this would also offer an insight into what the person going through it is experiencing and how one might support them. Sounds a good read, Wendy🙂

  5. I’m intrigued by this book, but I generally avoid very descriptive surgical or medical scenes. I’m glad you liked it, though! It sounds like it would make a good movie.

  6. Sounds complex and emotional. I like the topic of weight loss and reading how it is a different journey for everyone. Great review!

  7. Interesting that so much of the book is about weight loss surgery. Has the author undergone it, I wonder? Weight loss surgery has always seemed like the easy way out to me, so it would be eye-opening I’m sure to read about the reality of it. I also love stories about the complicated relationships between sisters (I have three of them!). I’ll have to check out the book. Thanks for your thoughtful review!


  8. Joanna @ TheGeekishBrunette

    It’s nice that it emphasizes the important of before and after care. Usually it just skips over that. Great review!

  9. This one sounds like a very complex and emotional read. I love the complicated sisters’ relationship as it sounds pretty true to life. Excellent review!

  10. Janette

    I think my view is the same as Cathy’s, this sounds a bit too graphic for me too. 😃Glad that you enjoyed it Wendy.

    • LOL, It was sometimes a bit too descriptive. I spent years working in hospitals, so I don’t notice it as much as others.