No, really, are you? Because this book, not coincidentally by the same title, will knock you off your feet!
Shannon Yarbrough, local (St. Ann) author of “Are You Sitting Down?” has written a fabulous tale of a family Christmas gathering, full of secrets and nuances, lively characters, and some not-so-picture-perfect holiday montages.
The novel begins with the well-written, poignant event that leads into the story itself; each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the cast of characters:
Travis, the middle child who is dealing with the loss of his long-time partner, Justin;
Mr. Black, Justin’s father;
Clare, the youngest child and a single mom;
Lorraine, the family matriarch;
Ellen, the oldest daughter who appears to be leading a perfect small-town life;
Sebastian, the fourth child, and semi-recovering drug addict;
Martin, the eldest;
Justin, from his perspective, both in flashback form and from beyond the grave;
and Mrs. Black, his rather mentally unstable mother.
Each of these people has a secret – some suspected, some stated outright, but most are quite shocking and totally unexpected. The story segues from chapter to chapter quite smoothly, each component building on the next.
Travis has come home for Christmas, from Memphis, to a fictional small Tennessee town where the remainder of his family still resides. While privy to many of his siblings’ secrets, his mother’s remain unknown to him – as well as to the rest of the family.
Essentially, the entire story takes place in one evening, peppered with flashbacks. The kids are arriving at Lorraine’s, the grandkids are excited about Christmas; brief descriptions of earlier moments in the lives of the characters allow the reader some background.
The dialog in this novel is outstanding, very natural and compelling. The twists and turns keep the reader flipping page after page, waiting and wanting to learn more.
Highly recommended, “Are You Sitting Down?” is an interesting and thought-provoking book, as well as being very entertaining. The only question that remains is this: when will we see a sequel?