A wonderful historical fiction sage about friends in nursing school. It was a very emotional book and I loved it!
4.5 strong stars! The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader was a truly moving historical fiction saga. It took place during the late 1960’s, through the decade of the 1970’s and in present time. Having had grown up during those times, I was able to relate to some of the things that were described in the The Sunshine Girls and during that time period. The Sunshine Girls took place at a nursing school in Greensboro, Iowa during the late 1960’s where three of the most unlikely female nursing students forged the beginning of a lifelong friendship, in Hollywood, California on the dazzling movie sets, in Vietnam where two of the three women experienced the horrors of war to nurse the wounded and dying and in present day both in Greensboro, Iowa and in California. The story was told from alternating points of view. I was hooked from the very beginning and formed a real attachment with the characters in The Sunshine Girls.
In the 1960’s it was not a given that all young women could attend college or earn a degree at a place of higher education. This was especially true for both young women and men that grew up on farms in the Midwest during that time. BettyKay Beecher grew up on one of those farms with parents that showed her little affection or pride in her accomplishments. She had a high school sweetheart, Todd, who had recently proposed to her. BettyKay loved Todd with her whole heart and wanted to become his wife but she also wanted to attend nursing school. Todd understood her passion and persuaded her to go and fulfill her dream when she got accepted unlike her own parents. Todd’s family also owned a farm. Although he had always dreamed of attending college and becoming a veterinarian, he knew he would take over his family’s farm someday. Todd knew he was needed on the farm and would not be able to attend college. BettyKay left her disgruntled parents, determined to become the best nurse she could possibly be. It was difficult to leave Todd but his tiny engagement ring hung around BettyKay’s neck close to her heart. She loved him dearly and agreed to marry him after she completed nursing school.
BettyKay arrived at St. Luke’s Nursing School by herself. Her parents had not offered to take her. She observed some of the nursing students receiving help from their parents as they moved into their assigned rooms. She was just glad to finally be at St. Luke’s and away from the criticism of her parents. BettyKay received her room assignment and opened the door of room 212 to greet her roommate. Although BettyKay and her roommate Katherine Simon (Kitty) were not best friends from day one, they developed a very strong friendship that lasted throughout both of their lives. Kitty was a rule breaker. Her true passion was not in becoming a nurse but in going to Hollywood. Jenny completed the trio. She was the token black student. Being black, Jenny had to work harder than any of the other nursing students. She had to constantly prove herself even though she was extremely bright. Jenny had wanted to become a doctor but being black and female was not a good combination for acceptance to medical school. She settled for nursing. Her main objective, though, was to join the Nursing Corps of the United States Army and be deployed to Vietnam so her younger brother would not have to serve. On that first day, as all the first year nursing students were gathered together by their floor mother, they were welcomed as her “sunshine girls”. The floor mother explained that first year nursing students were called “sunshine girls” since they held all sorts of possibilities just like a brand new day. BettyKay, Kitty and Jenny became the best of friends and their friendship stayed strong through nursing school, Vietnam, an acting career in Hollywood, marriage and families. It only grew stronger as the years progressed.
In present day, estranged sisters Clara and Abbie, BettyKay’s two daughters, were gathered together for their mother’s funeral. Clara had arrived just minutes before the funeral was meant to start from Chicago where she was a corporate lawyer and lived with her partner, Vickie. Abbie had married her high school sweetheart, had two children and had stayed in Greensboro living only minutes from her childhood home. Clara and Abby had been very close when they were young but when Clara went off to college the sister’s relationship changed. Abbie was the one who had to make all the arrangements for her mother’s funeral. As the sisters stood together, Clara informed her sister that she would be leaving as soon as the funeral concluded. Abbie could not believe that Clara was not coming for the luncheon she had planned and would not be there to help her pack up their parent’s house and get it ready to sell. Then the most unexpected thing happened. Actress Kitty Devereaux walked into BettyKay’s funeral, proceeded up to the open casket and placed the ugliest and biggest pink button anyone could imagine into the casket. Why was Kitty Devereaux at BettyKay’s funeral? Did she know Clara’s and Abbie’s mother? When Clara confronted Kitty wanting to know why she was at her mother’s funeral, Kitty replied that Clara’s mother happened to be very proud of her and felt really bad about the fight Clara had with her mother. How could Kitty Devereaux have known about the fight she had had with her mother right before she died? If she knew their mother, why had their mother never mentioned her or introduced them to each other? After the funeral, over the course of several weeks, in Greensboro and in California, Kitty slowly revealed how she knew BettyKay. She also revealed the answers to long kept secrets kept by BettyKay, Kitty and even Jenny.
The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader was the third book she has written and the first book I had the pleasure of reading. It was about a very special friendship, sisterhood, acceptance, determination, loss, secrets and surprises. In Molly Fader’s author’s notes, she admitted that The Sunshine Girls was inspired by stories her own mother told her about her own experiences in nursing school during the 1960’s. Even the ugly pink buttons had a back story. I remember the volatile time of the draft selection for the Vietnam war so well. Young men became teachers to avoid being drafted. Others threatened to move to Canada. Vietnam was not a war most believed in. Recreational drugs were easy to secure and use during this time period. The Sunshine Girls captured these times and described them so well. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book. The Sunshine Girls is a book that I recommend very highly.
Thank you to Graydon House/Harlequin Publishers for allowing me to read The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader through Netgalley in exchanged for an honest review.
The Sunshine Girls were three women who met in Iowa at nursing school in 1967. BettyKay, Kitty and Jenny didn't have much in common, but they bonded and even though they all took different paths, they remained friends all their lives. Jenny goes off to nurse in Vietnam, Kitty heads to Hollywood and BettyKay returns home after an incident at the hospital during her final stint before becoming certified. BettyKay heads to Hollywood to spend time with Kitty while figuring out what to do next. In this dual timeline story we hear about this time in their lives and where it leads each of them. Fifty years later, BettyKay's daughters are estranged, and they come together for their mother's funeral. They are shocked when a famous movie star shows up at their mother's funeral. It is time to share some secrets with the two girls and they are shocking. It takes some time to share all their secrets and come together as the family they need to be.
From the cover of this book, I wasn't expecting the story that they contained. I have read other Molly Fader books and now she will be going on my auto-read list. I loved my trip to the 1960s and 1970s. The picture she paints of the goings on in Hollywood was so realistic and fits all that I have heard and read about this time. The role of women and the situation involving the Vietnam war, protesters, soldiers and volunteers was also shared. With all that as a backdrop, we saw Kitty and BettyKay follow their dreams to become an actress and nurse, and still retain that friendship. Jenny drifts from their lives, but she and BettyKay always remained in contact. The ending is bittersweet as it brings Jenny and Kitty back together, but you will have to read this one to find out how that happens. This is a story of family, friendship, secrets, loyalty, forgiveness, following your dreams and more.
Betty Kay and Kitty are an unlikely pair thrown together at nursing school, but they find friendship. The bonds of friendship and the sacrifices make The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader a compelling emotional story. What, to me, is even more interesting, the depiction of the nursing schools in the 1960s. The story of sexism, racism, and the demands on these young women is a fascinating snapshot of history.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2023/09/the-sunshine-girls.html
Reviewed for NetGalley.
This is a delightful book that took me by surprise by how quickly I fell in love with these characters and I know you will as well.
☀️ The Sunshine Girls ☀️
What a fun novel of friendship! Two daughters are mourning the death of their mother when a famous movie star arrives. They don’t know how she knows their mother, but this opens a lot of secrets. Told through dual POV, we find out the history of BettyKay and the glamorous Kitty.
The two women meet at nursing school when they are paired up to share a room. BettyKay is from a small conservative time and this is her first time away. Kitty is more worldly and they butt heads at first. But over time, they find common ground. Kitty also has a burgeoning sewing business and brings in money doing seamstress work. This helps spark her interest in Hollywood where she eventually ends up after nursing school. BettyKay realizes that she’s not quite cut out for medicine either and joins Kitty in California.
The book goes on to share more about the two women as they find love and start families, although not always under the best conditions. I really enjoyed the time period of the book and what it was like to be a young woman at this time. It’s incredible how these woman were treated and men were just free to do as they please. I also like the secondary plot, about the two sisters trying to figure out their own lives.
If you are looking for an epic novel of friendship, please make sure to check out the Sunshine Girls. It’s a wonderful novel.
Many thanks to @graydonhouse @mokeefeauthor and @htpbooks for my gifted ebook.
The Sunshine Girls is a wonderful example of the power of female friendship and sisterhood. Molly Fader brings these characters to life in a time in history when women's professional careers were very much on the back burner. Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, Kitty, Clara and Jenny each bring something special to their nursing experiences and collectively they hold each other up through good times and the bad.
Thank you to NetGalley and Graydon House Books for the opportunity to read this novel.
Once you start reading this, you won't be able to stop! I can't believe I spent so long neglecting this book because it was such a gem. This beautifully written story takes readers on an emotional journey filled with warmth, depth, and the complexities of family dynamics.
There were so many important topics woven in so incredibly - The Black Panther Party, the Vietnam war, abortion, the list goes on. The historical fiction aspect really shined a light on how people were really living during these times and didn't shy away from difficult topics.
I also thought the storyline and plot was fascinating. It starts with two estranged sisters, Clara and Abbie who were together for their mother's, BettyKay, funeral. To everyone's surprise, famous actress Kitty Devereaux walked into the funeral. This led to questions about how much the sisters really knew about their mom, and why a famous actress came to her funeral.
I loved reading about the Sunshine Girls and switch POVs and time periods from the 60s to current day, and I can't wait to read Molly Fader's past and future novels!
It's such a delight when I go into a book blind and end up immersed in a story that I absolutely love! The Sunshine Girls was just that! A sisterhood born out of a friendship by girls that have absolutely nothing in common. Actually, they started off not even liking each other very much, but circumstances bonded them forever with a love that was deeper than most blood sisters have. Their story begins at the end, when two sisters are shocked by the arrival of a famous movie star at their mother's funeral.
There were many secrets unraveled in this story which kept me turning the pages and not wanting to put the book down. You will connect with the characters and love them, despite or maybe because of their flaws. The bits of historical references are so vivid and expertly woven into the story. And definitely read the Author's Note at the end for the endearing reference to some of the inspiration to this story.
Thank you so much NetGalley and Harlequin Publishing for gifting me this wonderful ebook.
The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader
Publisher: Harlequin Trade Publishing, Graydon House
Release Date: December 6, 2022
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Relationships
BettyKay, Kitty, and Jenny met as nursing students in the late 1960s in Iowa. The first-year students were called the Sunshine Girls because they were so optimistic. The story begins with BettyKay’s funeral. Her two daughters, Clara and Abbie are very different. Clara is a prominent attorney and Abbie is a stay-at-home mother. Jenny, one of the first Black student nurses at the school, stays in contact with BettyKay and her family. Kitty, now a famous actress, arrives at the funeral and throws the ugliest buttons into the casket. The two sisters have no idea why she is at the funeral and begin questioning her. She invites them to her home in California so she can tell them a story. When she finishes, none of their lives will be the same.
The book has a steady pace, the characters are developed, and it is written in the first and third person points of view. All the women in the book show strength and courage. The author does a beautiful job weaving historical events along with the story. If you like stories about relationships and their dynamics, you will enjoy reading this book.
This is not the first novel I have reviewed by Molly Fader.
Two friends. A lifetime of secrets. One sparkling story.
The story takes place in Iowa in 1967 Iowa.
I enjoyed BettyKay's and Kitty's backstories. This is a novel of secrets, friendship and different feelings and experiences.
It's uniquely written and I was glad to find another novel by Molly Fader.
Thanks to Molly Fader and publisher for my eARCin exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
Two girls become fast friends in nursing school in Iowa in the late 1960s. BettyKay is a star student while Kitty longs to escape. The story flits back between the past and present with BettyKay’s daughters reading her journals and questioning Kitty about their mother.
It’s a good story about friendships, changes, relationships and making the right decisions.
I liked how the author incorporated some of her mother’s story into the book.
Pay attention to the ugly buttons!
This is book 9 in the Edisto Island Mystery series. It contains characters from her crossover series. Callie Morgan, Carolina Slade and Quinn Sterling are all visiting since Callie resigned her job as Police Chief. She is now regretting that decision. During the visit a dead body turns up and the group catches the new chief in a lie about the death. They get dragged into the investigation and someone in town isn't happy that Callie is back working with the police. This book can be read as a stand alone but you will get more into the relationships of all the characters if you have read some of the previous books in either series.
The Sunshine Girls was a captivating historical fiction filled with drama, adventure, and love. Right from the start you are drawn in because of the mystery surrounding BettyKay's funeral. Right away you need answers and want to dive into the women's younger days.
The time spent at the nursing school and seeing their friendships blossom was a highlight of the book for me. I loved the lessons learned and even though there were some tough times, I really enjoyed the character development. Once out of school and the girls get into the "real world" I was intrigued by Kitty's life and everything she got herself into. I also liked how the war was tied in but wasn't the main point of the story.
I loved how the story jumped back and forth between the past and present. That is my favourite type of historical fiction story telling. Its so interesting to see what's happening in the past from the viewpoint of the characters while getting the present day viewpoint.
Overall, this was a great story with a lot of mystery and good story lines in both the past and present.
The Sunshine Girls is a story in two timelines. In present day, Abbie and Clara discover more about their mother's earlier years after she passes away, including some decades-old secrets. In the 1960's, the story focuses on three young women studying to be nurses - Betty Kay, Kitty, and Jenny. The book travels from a college in Iowa to the lives of Army nurses in Vietnam to early 1970's Hollywood.
I wanted to read this novel because I love historical fiction and have always been fascinated by the 1960's (a time I experienced as a small child).
This book was was a lovely surprise! It is a heartwarming story of friendship over many decades, and a look at three very different women finding purpose and happiness in different ways. Although I was particularly interested in the 1960's - '70's storyline, I also loved the story of the adult sisters in present day learning about their mother's life so many years ago.
I really enjoyed The Sunshine Girls and recommend it to other fans of historical fiction -- and especially anyone who is interested in the time setting of the 1960's and early '70's.
The Sunshine Girls was my favorite 2022 read. This book is about friendship and honoring the secrets to death do they part.
Three women (Kitty, BettyKay, and Jenny) become friends in nursing school during the Vietnam era. Each has a very strong and differing reason to be attending nursing school. Thus the kindle to spark a unique trio.
Years later, movie star, Kitty attends BettyKays funeral. BettyKays daughters are in shock why someone so famous would be attending their mothers funeral. Hiding their (1960’s) friendship opens many twist, proven loyalty, and bondage their friendships has held throughout decades. Each chapter reveals more silences, mysteries, stories and depths of confidences friends keep.
Dual timeline from present day, Vietnam era, and days between.
Thank you NetGalley and Harlequin Publishing for digital ARC read.
Such a good romance! The characters were likable and believable. The story was great and the steam was perfect!
Interesting to read about why the term "Sunshine Girls" is used. From Iowa to Vietnam to Hollywood 3 nursing students and their journey through life and their careers. All take different paths and all have secrets. At times I found the book a little too wordy and too detailed, but then I would read on and I was very glad that I did. My favorite aspect of the story is through the eyes of the daughters discovering their parents life/journey.
As a nurse, I couldn't wait to read "The Sunshine Girls" and it didn't disappoint! Having gone through nursing school, I could completely related to the bond between these women and I can understand how it was able to endure hardship.
The dual timelines really brought so much depth to this story and a bit of mystery. I truly enjoyed the writing and fell in love with the characters.
4 stars! The Sunshine Girls-a lifelong friendship set in the 60’s and 2019. The daughters of Betts, one of the three, learn of secrets at their mothers funeral. To find out the truth Clara and Abby take a ride down memory lane through their mothers journals. They learn to become family in more than one way.
Thank you to NetGalley,