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Abby and Her Sisters Paperback – October 29, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


The main, terrible thing we have learned is that there is no way of predicting which adolescents will have the worst time with the ghastly peer and cultural pressures which are on them. What a dreadful time you all (and many others) went through-I hope your book can comfort them. —T. Berry Brazelton, M.D."Melanie Bellah seems to have crafted a literary genre that is uniquely her own; her books churn up feelings [that] speak more to my unconscious than to my conscious mind. How else can I explain the lingering hold that her two books have on me?" —Huston Smith, author of The World'¬?s Religions"Melanie Bellah lyrically chronicles the life and death of her teenage daughter, Abby. And by blending the girl¬?s diary entries into the story, Bellah brings alive the heart-rendering story of her daughter'¬?s fatal car crash and teaches teens how fragile life is." —Boston Herald

About the Author

MELANIE BELLAH received her B.A. from Stanford and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She practiced family law in Berkeley, California, where she lives with her husband, Robert.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Celestial Arts (October 29, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587611171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587611179
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,163,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Melanie and Robert Bellah, now in their 70s, had four daughters: Tammy, Jenny, Abby, and Hally. The girls grew up in Berkeley, CA, where Bob taught sociology at Cal and Melanie practiced family law. They were a loving family. In 1973 they lost Tammy, 19, by suicide. In 1976 they lost Abby, 17, in an auto accident on a steep Berkeley street. All four girls had kept diaries. Years later, Jenny and Hally shared theirs with Melanie. This astonishingly intimate reflection, part contemporaneous and part looking back, uses theirs.
For a preface, Melanie uses "The Theological Mind at Work," a short conversation about suffering between Abby and Melanie that Bob heard and transcribed. Abby's creed. Melanie's own creed is represented by a conversation between Pastor Henrik Bergman and Queen Sophia of Sweden, interviewing him for the post of Chaplain at the Stockholm hospital she founded, on the same subject (from Ingmar Bergman's biographical film, Best Intentions). At a recent book talk, she also spoke of Mozart.
Melanie has always written well. Her poems have appeared in selective anthologies. She wrote "Bow Wow Meow! A First Book of Sounds" when Abby and Hally were small and it is still in print today. She wrote much as a lawyer. Recently she wrote "Tammy: Biography of a Young Girl" in 1999, weaving Tammy's words together with hers. And now, focusing on the girls' life together, she has written Abby's story.
If the idea interests you, read the book. The experience goes far beyond what I can describe.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Victorygirl on August 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How I accidentally found this book, I will never know. Certainly no friends or past-classmates mentioned to me that my beloved Abby had a book written about her life. It took me a while to find what was written about me - but when I saw how Melanie described me, I knew I, and only I, could be the character "Leslie."

Although I know Melanie truly poured her heart and soul into writing this painful biography, it is obvious to me how parents never really see the whole picture. I also found it painfully clear that Melanie felt I was only close to a footnote in Abby's life, when I know I was so much more than that. Let me explain... Although I did not see Lee in such a sinister way, as an adult and a parent, I can understand how Melanie must have seen Lee's influence as a little too destructive.

I met Abby and "Lee" in 9th grade, and we were all immediately drawn to each other. I won't bore you with the details, but the moment we all met, we were fast friends. Many people called the three of us the "Three Musketeers" because we were always together. This was certainly the case for the first couple years. However, when we got into the later stages of high school, I subtlety pulled away from both of them. Why? Because the two instances of Abby's journal where we wrote some drunken comments was about the two times I ever got drunk. Abby and Lee were far more into experimenting with boys and harder drugs, and I didn't feel I was ready to join the ride. At least that was then...

To keep it short, after Abby's funeral, her family, as well as most of my class-mates, decided being around me was too painful. So everyone pushed me away. I tried to get a hold of Melanie a few times, and I could tell she wanted no part of me.
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