Cover Image: The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream

The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream

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The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream 
by Jeannie Zusy
Pub Date: September 20. 2022
Atria Books
Thanks to the author, Atria, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book. I  really wanted to love this book because it highlights the struggles and demanding nature of caring for a family member with disabilities in a real authentic way. You can feel Maggie's frustrations with both her sisters. But it didn't come off as moving or funny as I thought it would be. 
It was hard for me to get through this book.  I did not enjoy the style of writing. I cannot recommend this book. 
3 stars
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No matter how hard we try to understand the members of our family, we will always fall short. Though we lived in the same house for years, each of us remembers the events differently which leads to bad feelings, harbored guilt, and the greatest misunderstandings of our lives. Add in a family member who is mentally challenged, and guilt and blame hide in every corner. 

Ginny is mentally disabled - a little bit. Bets lives in California and appears to be irresponsible and is never around to help when things go wrong. Maggie takes everyone's problems on her shoulders. Each remembers the events of their growing up years differently. When Ginny faces a health crisis, Maggie jumps in to solve the problems and assume the care of Ginny.

Can this family ever understand each other and put their lives back together?

Reading this story of one family's struggles puts the reader in the middle. It evokes sympathy, anger, pity, and hope.
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Maggie’s life has shifted as she finds out her sister, Ginny, will need someone to take care of her. This is the story of two sisters and the bond they share, lives  changed and the love of a woman and her sister who has intellectual disabilities and Diabetes. This book was well-written, quirky, and an absolute gem!
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Maggie, a separated mother of two soon to be adult boys, works as a storyboard artist, flavors her daily coffee with Baileys Irish Cream, and finishes her day with a bottle of wine. Maggie takes care of her special needs sister, Ginny, who lived in Maryland, but now, due to health issues caused by a love of sugar, lives outside New York City near Maggie. Betsy, the oldest sister is a California surfer and business woman, searching to reignite her fame with a stint on Dancing with the Stars. The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream presents many family issues among a small extended group: guilty, health, responsibility, and love are just a few. The novel is funny, sad, and at times, written a bit over the top. And there are dogs. Readers cannot help but like Ginny who is a sage at times, and other time a rage.
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I really like that we are seeing more books with diverse characters, including characters on the spectrum as is the case in this book. This story was very original, realistic, and refreshing. I think those who have gone through caring for a special needs individual, have teenagers/older children, have been married/divorced, basically those who have life experience will enjoy this book the most.
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Synopsis: 

After retiring from her janitorial job and being hospitalized for sepsis. Ginny who is intellectually disabled with diabeties can no longer return to her home in Maryland where she lived independently with her dog Rascal. Instead her younger sister Maggie becomes her caregiver and moves her into a seniors home where Ginny would have around the clock care. After Ginny becomes extremely unhappy because she has been separated from her dog Rascal. Maggie helps Ginny move into a new house close by and hires two immigrant caregivers that provide her with 24/7 care. Maggies is also trying to navigate her freelancing art career, separation from her husband after 20 plus years of marriage, and relationships with her two young adult sons. Meanwhile the oldest sister Bets is living her best life in California leaving all the decisions regarding Ginny up to Maggie. 

I really wanted to love this book because it highlights the struggles and demanding nature of caring for a family member with disabilities in a real authentic way. You can feel Maggies frustrations with both her sisters. But it didn't come off as moving or funny as I thought it would be. 

Thank you to @netgalley and Atria books for providing me the ARC of The Frederick Sisters are living the dream in exchange for an honest review.
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The story of 2 middle aged sisters navigating life's complications together. I loved the premise, and am always here for characters who are at later, less explored stages of life. However the stream-of-consciousness style of writing was so all over the place that it became a distraction for me and I couldn't enjoy the story. 
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this e-ARC.
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Thank you NetGalley and publisher for this ARC publication for an honest review.

The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream
Jeannie Zusy
Publication: August 2, 2022
This book was one thing...... REAL LIFE!!!!  You will become wildly  invested in the Frederick sisters and their lives. Maggie, the caregiver, Bets, the free-spirited surfer, Ginny, the special needs sister but, all of them were so much more then those basic labels.  Mix in the other characters and you have a recipe for a delightful book!  The character growth that you see through out the story is fantastic! I highly recommend this read! Glad I can add it to my 2022 list!
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Separated, raising two teenage boys, and now faced with caring for her disabled sister, Maggie has a full plate. Navigating life is messy and maybe by trying to take on everyone else’s problems, she’s actually neglecting the relationships she holds.

This book was filled with deep family trauma. From an undiagnosed, handicapped sister who is fighting for her independence to the other older sister who is thought to be living the glamorous and free California life, to Maggie- the middle aged, separated, mother. The character develop of Maggie learning to let go of control and embrace her own life and individuality was heartwarming. The author does a beautiful job at showing things aren’t as they always appear and having those support networks is what keeps you going. Maggie is a lovable character and relatable in the sense of trying to put every one else’s needs first, trying to be the caretaker and peacemaker. She’s overbearing at times and neglects to open up to herself or anyone else but her growth throughout was beautiful. If you’re searching for some diverse family dynamics and hard life choices with a mix of letting go and personal growth- this one is for you.
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I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the Frederick sisters. The stream-of-consciousness narration style invites the reader into the complicated web of family. A vivid representation of sisterhood. Anyone who has experience caring for a loved one (and knows firsthand the accompanying layers of frustration, love, obligation, and sacrifice) will connect with this story immediately. 4 Stars.
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I was very excited to receive this advance copy especially since it was compared to  Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Where'd You Go, Bernadette.  However, I found this book to be quite different and so much more about the complexities of family, care giving, and love. I liked the book - the three Frederick sisters are all very different - and react differently when an emergency arises.  Author Zusy does an excellent job weaving the history and emotions of each character into a unique and enjoyable story.
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Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was very excited to read this book, I loved Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Where’d You Go, Bernadette but was very disappointed in this book.  I found it very hard to read due to the writing style.  It was like a stream of consciousness writing where nothing was very deep.  I found that Maggie would jump from thought to thought with nothing connecting them.  I wanted more story from Bets and while Ginny could be overwhelmingly frustrating, I wished there was more story with her and her caretakers while Maggie was not around.  The story is really more about Maggie and not them as sisters.  I found that this book was easy to put down and I had a really hard time finishing it.
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The Frederick Sisters Are Living the Dream
A Novel
by Jeannie Zusy

Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review. 
A story of sisters, I can't see the dream though. It was a kind of read where Maggie finds herself caring for Ginny, her older sister with intellectual disabilities and health challenges.  I loved Maggie. She also had me misty-eyed.. I found little or no humor.
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This book explores the complexity of family relationships and caretaking of an adult sibling. For the three sisters, Maggie, Betsy, and Ginny, they are each faced with secrets from the past and have to navigate through boundaries of sisterhood. The middle sister Ginny, is diabetic and special needs, certainly put Maggie through some challenging times. Overall, the book flows nicely and gives each of the characters a chance for development. It is a sentimental and compelling.
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This book tackles the unique bond of sisters in a way that mimics real life so vividly! I enjoyed listening to Maggie's inner turmoil and struggle to support her sister and laughed so hard hearing about Ginny's adventures. truly a unique easy read that keeps you coming back for more!
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC copy of this novel.

The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream isn’t a book that I would normally reach for while out shopping or at the library. It’s not fantasy, it’s not a romance book, there’s nothing really there that speaks to my favorite genres. But there was something about the cover, something about the description that made me request an ARC. I’m glad I did. The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream is a story about three sisters, their lives, and how much they care for one another.

The eldest sister, Betsy, is barely in the book – she’s out living her life on the West coast away from the rest of her family. You’re made to believe that she thinks she’s better than her other two sisters, that she’s got this fantastic life and as such has no time for her family. This isn’t the case, you’ll find out as you read. Betsy is very complex as a character.

The middle sister is Ginny, an adult with special needs, a learning disability, and severe diabetes. She’s often difficult, hard to understand and cantankerous. Ginny is stubborn to a fault, and at some points, just plain mean. Her falling and getting sepsis is where the novel starts.

The youngest sister, and main character of the novel, is Maggie. Maggie is a woman whose sons are grown, who has just separated from her deadbeat husband that she cheated on, who is doing the absolute best she can to hold onto her life with all she can. She holds on too tightly, and cracks begin to appear.

It sounds like, from reading the acknowledgements at the end of the book, that Jeannie Zusy herself had a sibling with disabilities. While reading the book, you can definitely tell that Zusy knows exactly what her characters are going through. You can really feel Maggie’s frustration and absolute love for her sisters warring with each other. Maggie tries so hard to control everything, to make everyone happy, to make sure everything goes right. But it’s impossible for her to do, so by the middle-end of the book, she’s going crazy.

The sisters, all three, do come to an understanding by the end of the book. They learn to live with each other’s faults, to work around each other’s quirks, and live. This book is heartwarming, but at the same time, incredibly, incredibly real.

The Frederick Sisters are Living the Dream comes out September 20, 2022.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this story. As a caregiver myself (of two elderly moms and an aunt) I understand the relentlessness of it and the never-ending need for more patience than I can scrape up some days. The story itself was quite relatable. too, in the way that I didn't consider myself a hero or martyr, helping was just what I did. The inner-monologues of Maggie when learning about her son and his girlfriend were spot-on if not a smidge hard to follow. The conclusion was satisfying and I don't think it was rushed.  I was distracted a bit by the misuse of the word peak in place of peek, but hopefully, that will be corrected before publication.
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I really enjoyed this book! It was almost like a coming of age book, for the middle aged. Dynamic family relationships, with some funny parts and some sad parts. 

I love how this book flowed, like a stream of thought. I enjoyed knowing what she was seeing, thinking, feeling.
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Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Frederick Sisters are three very different adult sisters. Betsy (Bets) is the eldest who is a former minor celebrity surfer is free spirited and goes with the flow. Virginia (Ginny or Gin-Gin) is the middle sister who is special needs with an intellectual disability, recently retired and recovering from a health scare. The youngest sister, Maggie, is what I would refer to as the motherly, responsible and reliable sister. She is an artist for commercials, recently separated and a mother of two sons moving into early adulthood.
Maggie tasks herself with the responsibility of helping Ginny to recover and becomes the main contact for Ginny’s caregiving. What a wild ride!
The story is a heartwarming one that explores the struggle of sister relationships, caregiving for a family member, individual internal struggles and love.
I really enjoyed reading a book put a spotlight intellectual disabilities. Ginny was quite the character, truly some of her scenes had me laughing out loud, but there were plenty of indications of what struggles there can be with having a family member with special needs. Compassion is key and huge gratitude for caregivers.
Definitely a book  that provides you with a rollercoaster of emotions throughout and things aren’t always as they seem.
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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm not sure what I think about the tone of this book. It feels like it's trying to be quirky at times, but explores such complex relationships and topics. 

None of the characters are particularly likable. The story focuses largely on Maggie and her relationship with her sisters, Ginny and Bets. While I felt for Maggie at times, especially near the end of the book, she also says things that are offensive yet we also see her struggle with recognizing that some of her thoughts are hurtful. Ginny is also portrayed poorly throughout the book and while it's never explicitly said it's clear that Maggie resents taking care of her. 

I am curious to hear the perspectives of people who experience disability on this book. While I appreciate the nuances in Maggie and Bets' relationship and the unspoken troubles between them, Maggie's relationship with Ginny is more complicated. It's unclear to me if we're supposed to see Ginny as terribly as Maggie does and why that is. 

This book is a downer and a bit of a heavy read.
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