July 27, 2018

Looking Back - Little Altars Everywhere

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
1996 Harper Collins (first published in 1992)
Finished in December 1997
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good!)

Publisher's Blurb:
"We are swinging high, flying way up, higher than in real life. And when I look down, I see all the ordinary stuff--our brick house, the porch, the tool shed, the clothesline, the chinaberry tree. But they are all lit up from inside so their everyday selves have holy sparks, they'd go and kneel in front of them and pray and just feel good. Somehow the whole world looks like little altars everywhere."
Little Altars Everywhere is a national bestseller, a companion to Rebecca Wells's celebrated novel Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Originally published in 1992, Little Altars introduces Sidda, Vivi, the rest of the spirited Walker Clan, and the indomitable Ya-Yas. It is now available for the first time in hardcover.

Told in alternating voices of Vivi and her husband, Big Shep, along with Sidda, her siblings Little Shep, Lulu, Baylor, and Cheney and Willetta--the black couple who impact the Walkers' lives in ways they may never fully comprehend--Little Altars embraces nearly thirty years of life on their plantation in Thorton, Louisiana, where the cloying air of the bayou and a web of family secrets of once shelter, trap, and define an utterly original community of souls.

Who can resist the rich cadences of Sidda Walker and her flamboyant, secretive mother, Vivi? Here, the young Sidda--a precocious reader and an eloquent observer of the fault lines that divide her family--leads us her mischievous adventures at Our Lady of Divine Compassion parochial school and beyond. A Catholic girl of pristine manners, devotion, and provocative ideas, Sidda is the very essence of childhood joy and sorrow.

In a series of luminous reminiscences, we also hear Little Shep's stories of his eccentric grandmother, Lulu's matter-of-fact account of her shoplifting skills, and Baylor's memories of Vivi and her friends, the Ya-Yas.

Beneath the humor and tight-knit bonds of family and friendship lie the undercurrents of alcoholism, abuse, and violence. The overlapping recollections of how the Walker's charming life uncoils to convey their heartbreaking confusion are at once unsettling and familiar. Wells creates an unforgettable portrait and funny attempts to keep reality at arm's length. Through our laughter, we feel their inevitable pain, with a glimmer of hope for forgiveness and healing.

An arresting combination of colloquialism, poetry, and grace, Little Altars Everywhere is an insightful, piercing, and unflinching evocation of childhood, a loving tribute to the transformative power of faith, and a thoroughly fresh chronicle of a family that is as haunted as it is blessed.

My Original Notes (1997):

Excellent! Just as good as Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Made me laugh and cry. What a marvelous author. Interesting device to use different characters' voices for each chapter. Varies the story's point of view. [I must not have encountered this before, but it's very common in the books I read now!] Highly recommend!

My Current Thoughts:

I wish I could remember more about this novel and I no longer own a copy, so I can't glance back and see if I highlighted any passages. Funny that I had never read (or noticed) a book with alternating points of view! I do believe it's time to reread both Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (which I talked about here) and Little Altars Everywhere. I think I need to devote an entire month to rereading some of my favorites! 


  1. I think you should devote a month rereading your favorites. I loved both this book and the Divine Secrets. Did you ever see the movie? I don't think I liked it quite as well, but as these things go, they changed it up a bit. I'm glad this is a book you shared from that time that I actually have already read.

    1. Kay, I think that's a great idea! I've started re-reading The Guernsey book in anticipation of the Netflix release, but there are so many others I'd love to read. I may have to devote an entire year! To answer your question, yes I did see the movie. It was good, but not as good as the book. I'd watch it again, though.

  2. I enjoyed all of the books by this water back in the day. Hope u r having a nice weekend.

    1. Diane, I haven't read the most recent book by Rebecca Wells. I think it's called Ya-Yas in Bloom. Maybe I'll try it after I re-read her first two books.

  3. I had heard of Ya-Ya, but never read it, and now, after reading your reviews old and current, I will add both books -- oh, I should say all the books! -- to my TBR list. Thank you for well-written reviews that seem to mention the things I care about. :-)

    1. GretchenJoanna, thank you for stopping by with your comment. I appreciate your kind words and look forward to visiting your blog, as well. Hope you find time for this book and that it's as satisfying as it was for me.


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