Little altars everywhere

by Rebecca Wells

Paper Book, 1992




Seattle, Wash. : Broken Moon Press, c1992.


Fiction. Literature. HTML: "Brilliant. . . . A structural tour de force. . . . A classic Southern tale of dysfunctional and marginal madness. The author's gift for giving life to so many voices leaves the reader profoundly moved."� Seattle Weekly The companion novel to Rebecca Wells's celebrated #1 New York Times bestseller Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood 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 into 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. 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..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Banoo
It's about a dysfunctional family from Louisiana, but then most books about Louisiana are about dysfunctional families. Why is that? Please don't answer. BTW, I'm from there, not the dysfunctional part, the Louisiana part. I won't be reading the follow-up book about the Ya-Ya's. Reading this one
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was enough… more than enough.
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LibraryThing member madamejeanie
For any of you who have seen the 2002 movie "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood," this is the first of the three books that chronicle the
Ya-Yas. This book was meant to stand alone and needs no sequel, but it
ended up with two of them eventually.

This is the story of a group of women in
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Thornton, Louisiana, who have
been best friends since grade school. They were all cheerleaders, the
homecoming queen and court, and the leaders in fashion and rumor for
their small locale back in the 1930s. Big ducks in a little puddle,
none of them would have ever amounted to much if they'd left the area so
none of them did. The best days of their lives were the ones spent in
high school -- you know the type. Anyway, this is mainly the story of
one of the Ya-Yas, Vivi Abbott Walker, and her family. Vivi is an
alcoholic who deals with a very controlling overly religious mother, a
mostly absent (also alcoholic) husband, and her four rambunctious
children, with the ever constant help and advice of the Ya-Yas who are
never farther away than a phone call and will gather with loving concern
and silver thermoses full of Bloody Marys.

It's a southern book, but not loaded down with dialect that makes it
hard to read. I enjoyed the story and the characters were good (I
intend to read the other two books in this series pretty quick, in
fact), but I have a couple of beefs about the way it's written. This is
one of those books that has each chapter written from the point of view
of a different character. That in itself isn't too bad, though it gets
to be a bit distracting if you have to stop reading in the middle of a
chapter. You come back and can't remember who's telling the tale right
then. But the biggest complaint I have is that the book is written in
the first person present tense, even though it jumps around in time.
Each chapter will tell you what year you are in, but I really don't like
hearing a tale told as if it were happening right now when it's in the past.

Even with that distraction (and it was a pretty big one, I admit), I
still liked the story. If only Wells had written the whole thing in the
past tense, it would have been perfect. As it is, I'll give it a 4.
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LibraryThing member estellen
Much better than the Ya-yas - a slighty more ironic and sad book, this one digs into the disgrace and abuse behind the scenes.
LibraryThing member universehall
When I picked up this book, I thought (based on a skimming of the back cover) that it was going to be a charming book about an eccentric Southern Catholic childhood.

It wasn't until I actually got the book home that I realized it was by the same author who wrote The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
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Sisterhood. That was when I assumed that this was going to be one of those women's books. You know the kind of thing: a story where there's this group of women who seem to spend every other page crying and laughing together; there are lots of scenes where their husbands are beating them and demonstrating how stupid men are and then somebody dies and somebody leaves their husband yet the women are still strong blah blah blah. (I'm not a tremendous fan of that genre, as you might be able to tell.)

Well, there were a few pages of both of those things. But both of those pre-suppositions were thrown out the window somewhere around page twenty, when I came to a scene of a child watching Lesibans have sex.

Mostly this book is about an incredibly screwed-up family. Not funny screwed-up. Not goofy ha-ha screwed-up. Not charming screwed-up. Just SCREWED-UP.

I was not really surprised to find that the author of this book is actually a Theatre person. Coming from a Theatre background myself, I noticed she wrote the stories that comprise this book as if they were supposed to be spoken. I also noticed that she designed the stories in such a way that they elicit strong emotional responses (which is the goal of a lot of modern theatre). In fact, I almost take her to task for the latter, because there was almost too much "strong emotional response" eliciting. It is possible to go overboard in this direction, as there's something just a touch empty in a creation that is all "strong emotional response". It's like an action movie that is all explosions and no plot. Explosions sure are exciting to watch, and there are explosions in a few classic movies, but they do not a classic movie make.

"Strong emotional response" is cheap, which is a lot of the reason why I don't care for a lot of modern theatre. (There are other reasons, but I won't go into that here.)

There were many, many times that I just wanted to put this book down - or even just throw it away. There was one point, reading this on my commute back from work, when something so incredibly awful (strong emotional response) was happening in the story that I just wanted to throw the book down on the floor of the train and leave it there with the discarded newspapers and empty soda bottles.

Originally, when I began writing this, I thought that the only reason that I went on reading it at that point was that it must be terribly well-written. But, on consideration, it occurred to me that maybe it was just that ploy, the "strong emotional response" scene, that kept me going. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with having an emotional response, nor is there anything wrong with a writer trying to smack you in the face with one to get that blood flowing and keep you reading.

And that's why I still have to say that it's a well-written book: she writes a fine scene for causing a strong, emotional response in the reader. There was something very compelling about it that kept me reading in spite of my horror and revulsion (unless I just secretly hate myself and want to feel bad all of the time). So, really, what we have here is a fine example of its type. I've simply had to take a step back and say, "I don't like what it does - but I've got it admit that it's good at it."

To sum up - this book was not what I was expecting. I was expecting light, fun, reading material, and it was none of those things. In fact, there were points when I was in ACTUAL, PHYSICAL PAIN while reading this. I definitely would not call reading it "a good time". This is a serious book; probably written for people who had equally screwed-up childhoods and can emphathise with the pain that the characters were feeling. However, this is an EXCELLENT book for studying the structure of a scene that is built to elicit a strong emotional response. I cannot state that more strongly.

A Post-Script for Catholic Readers: I can't say much about this as "Catholic" reading material. The main characters (you know, the horrible, horrible, screwed-up family?) are Catholic, but I'm not entirely certain that the author was criticising the Church through them; they weren't really screwed up because they were Catholic. They just seemed incidentally Catholic. However, the author does juxtapose them with a happy, emotionally-healthy family --who are NOT Catholic -- which left me uncertain about the author's views. In the end, I would not tell a person to read this book who wants to read about Catholics; I would only tell a person to read this book who wants to read about screwed-up families. And that's all I have to say about that.
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LibraryThing member coolpinkone
This was a good book for those who want some more more more of the Ya Ya's. The book lacked all the fun stories and the true heart of the first book with all " secrets "of the Ya-Ya's. But I would say if anyone was as attached to the Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, you will not be entirely
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disappointed in this book. I recommend this book as a follow up to the first. Happy Reading.
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LibraryThing member skinglist
This book hasn't grabbed me like Yayas in Bloom did, but I keep finding myself drawn back. I like how it changes perspective from Sidda to Little Shep and back to Viv and Big Shep. Buggy is hysterical. Love the fear and respect for Catholicism, so true.

Do I ge time in purgatory for even considering
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releasing this at/near a church?

Well after saying that this book hadn't grabbed me like others in the series did, it certainly got its claws into me last night. Forced myself to stop reading when I got to pt 2 and read the rest this morning.

Liked how it fast forwarded to the 90s and reminisces before coming to the then present with Bay's dau's baptism. Only wish I still had Yayas in Bloom to reread now that I know about their past, would tie it all together better. This is why serial books should be read in order. o:)

Even though the bits about the Penguins made me laugh, I don't think this can pass as a church appropriate release
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LibraryThing member Cherry_Dynamite
This is my favorite Rebecca Wells book. I liked being able to see the different POVs of the characters. It was interesting to see the character's different perspectives on the situations that happened.

I read this after Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood... and I no longer liked Vivi as much as
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I did before. I won't spoil the book, but in Little Altars everywhere you get to see a much darker side to Vivi's character.

Still, I loved this book. Each character had their own personality. It was funny, sad, nostaligic, and a memorable read.
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LibraryThing member petiteflour
I enjoyed reading this story. I found myself saying "Yall" to my family and friends. I wish the mother hadn't been so abusive. I thought it took a long time to wrap up.
LibraryThing member Fliss88
Love everything this author has done. Started with me reading Ya YA Sisterhood, and has gone on from there.
LibraryThing member Louise_Waugh
this was not a happy read. Perhaps the ending was meant to be hopeful, but it didn't work for me. I am glad I am none of these characters.
LibraryThing member krobbie67
This book is a taste of what the follow up, The Ya-Ya Sisterhood delivers. Rebecca Wells does a great job of pulling the reader into the scene. I sure hope none of this is told from her own childhood memories. Ms. Wells does such a great job building her characters that inspite of all her
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narcisism, you can't help but like Vivi too.
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LibraryThing member MeganAngela
Little Altars Everywhere is one of my favorite books of all-time. As a Southern girl, some of the stories reminded me of my own childhood and the childhoods of my parents and grandparents. It reminds me of growing up in a small farm town, and playing in the fields. However, it is Rebecca Wells
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sumptuous writing that kept me coming back for more. She knew just how to describe things so that you felt that you were right there. You could see, hear, feel, and smell everything.

I loved how each story was voiced by a different character so that we could get a little bit of insight into the minds of each one of them. We could become them, if only for a moment. There were some things I wish we could have learned more about like Lulu, or if Big Shep truly loved Vivi even if he couldn't show it, or if either one of them realized all the things they had done wrong in their lives.

This is a great novel, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a good Southern novel, or who likes novels that explore complicated family relations. This is truly a very special novel.
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LibraryThing member RachelPenso
I enjoyed the friendships in this book. I also enjoyed the "southerness" of it. It almost makes me want to go back and visit Louisiana again...but not really.
LibraryThing member DanaMBurnett
The first book about the crazy walker family and the unstoppable ya-yas. A must have.
LibraryThing member isabelx
This book is best read after "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". It shows the Walker family from the point of view of other family members as well as Siddalee. It starts off light in tone but becomes even darker than "Divine Secrets" towards the end of the book.
LibraryThing member LisMB
I finished this and went straight into Divine Secrets. I am southern and it is so endearing to read a book dripping with southern life. Very enjoyable book, it starts light and funny but there is a dark part to this book. Can't wait to finish the second and move on to the third in the series!
LibraryThing member AliceAnna
I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. This book contained more of the pain and less of the joie de vivre than the other one did.
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
See my review of [Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood] as I read these two books back-to-back
LibraryThing member Icewineanne
Ok. Not as good as the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
LibraryThing member mazda502001
I tried reading Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by this author quite a while ago and could not get into it so when I started reading this book I was quite prepared that this was going to go the same way but surprise! - I really enjoyed this book and will now try Divine Secrets again.
I loved
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the characters, especially Chaney and Willetta and found the book to be both heartwarming and emotional. I am so glad I read it.

Back Cover Blurb:
Little Altars Everywhere offers another look into the turbulent, unconventional and often hilarious lives of the quirky Walker clan of Thornton, Louisiana. Blending postbellum electricity with an off-beat Catholic pedigree, the Walkers take turns imparting the family history, bringing a whole new meaning to the term Southern Gothic.
Little Altars Everywhere is often outrageous and wildly funny and yet beneath each comic turn lies the dark reality of life on the Pecan Grove Plantation.
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LibraryThing member magst
Unusual and thought provoking. Overall the book was a good read and got better towards the end. Spanning over 30 years, this story is rich in tone and mood and takes a special writing talent to produce a saga that you feel can go on indefinitly.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
The book is compiles as if each character is contributing a chapter of their memories from childhood. Some characters, like Siddah, have more than one chapter. This gave me such mixed feelings to read. It is so sad, yet hopeful. The voices of the different characters ring true for them; it is easy
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to feel that this all happened. This book is not enjoyable; in fact, I almost quit reading it was so painful. I am glad I persevered to the end because it does in fact show a measure of healing for those involved, and if not healing, perhaps understanding.
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Western States Book Award (Fiction — 1992)


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