G. Bianco, 2019
What happens when you throw three family members together after a heartbreaking loss? Sharina Harris’s new women’s fiction novel, Judge’s Girls, explores the answer to that question. This October 27th release deals with heartbreak, family drama, and how each person grieves differently.
Beloved Georgia judge Joseph Donaldson was known for his unshakable fairness, his hard-won fortune--and a scandalous second marriage to his much-younger white secretary. Now he's left a will with a stunning provision. In order to collect their inheritance, his lawyer daughter Maya, her stepmother Jeanie, and Jeanie's teen daughter, Ryder, must live together at the family lake house. Maya and Jeanie don't exactly get along, but they reluctantly agree to try an uneasy peace for as long as it takes. But fragile ex-beauty queen Jeanie doesn't know who she is beyond being a judge's wife--and drinking away her insecurities has her in a dangerous downward spiral. Fed up with her mother's humiliating behavior, Ryder tries to become popular at school in all the wrong ways. And when Maya attempts to help, she puts her successful career and her shaky love life at risk. Now with trouble they didn't see coming--and secrets they can no longer hide--these women must somehow find the courage to admit their mistakes, see each other for who they really are--and slowly, perhaps even joyfully, discover everything they could be.
I really enjoyed this story about these different women who are actually more similar than it initially seems. I loved the alternating POVs and how we got to see three different women at three different stages in their lives cope with the loss of a man that was so important to them. I don’t think this novel would have worked if each of Judge’s girls didn’t get a point of view and Harris did a great job of shifting from a teen’s mind to a young adult’s mind to an adult’s mind. Some portions felt a bit rushed, but the chapters were broken up with days and times so that helped keep track of what was going on.
There are heavy topics like alcoholism, grief, and loss; however, this novel shows that no matter what hardships come your way, you can always find a way to move forward. There are also mentions of racism and racial bias, which was really insightful given that this novel focuses on a blended family with different ethnicities. But this book also shows how speaking your truth is imperative to living your life to the fullest and finding people that you can call family.
Overall, if you’re looking for a book that has humor, love, heartbreak, and family values, then this is definitely the book for you! I will definitely be keeping Sharina Harris on my radar and can't wait to see what other books she will write next!
*I received an ARC from Kensington Books via Bookish First in exchange for my honest opinion.
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