A spellbinding tale that follows the lives of two sisters bound together by complex family dynamics, Sunnyside Up by Rea Nolan Martin is a spellbinding tale for fans of literary fiction with fully drawn, sophisticated characters. Set in a rural village in Kentucky, Adelaide Somers lives with her younger sister, Felicity. They are two unique characters whose current circumstances are forged by events that happened in their childhood, events that they don’t remember so well. Addie sees herself as the only responsible person in the family who takes care of the dying family funeral home business and chicken farm. She is driven nuts by Felicity's constant communication with the dearly departed members of the family. Felicity brings Addie along to her lectures, hoping they can help her ease out of her misery. In the heart of the mystery of their past is a miner's son called Julian, the one that some blame for the accident that changed their lives forever. Can these two sisters unravel the mystery of their past and find hope in forging ahead?
Sunnyside Up is a deeply moving tale that offers an unusual exploration of family dynamics; it is character-driven and littered with quirky moments that will bring smiles to the lips of readers. The author’s gift for humor is brilliantly accomplished in this tale and the characters are nuanced and memorable. Felicity doesn’t seem to have much care in the world; she is bubbly and upbeat while Addie suffers from bouts of depression. When readers meet Addie in the opening scenes, she is waking up from sleep, disoriented, and not filled with energy. This image of her remained with me as I followed her throughout the story. The contrast between the two sisters is cleverly written and the author offers wonderful twists throughout, keeping readers guessing about what happened to the family in the past and wanting to know more about Julian. The story is evenly paced, crafted in gorgeous prose, and brimming with internal dialogues that open hidden worlds in the characters. Sunnyside Up is a delightful tale of grit and survival with strong psychological and emotional currents. You’ll be stunned by Martin's deft handling of characterization.