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Reel Life: Two sisters on the verge escape to the movies Paperback – February 22, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Ripetta Press (February 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983791503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983791508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,278,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A realistic, moving chronicle of the evolving relationship between sisters." - Kirkus Reviews

"Surprising twists add to the drama, as infidelity and betrayal re-occur like a generational curse. But, that's real life, and ultimately, Reel Life turns out to be interesting, just like in the movies." - San Francisco Book Review

"This novel took me a while to finish, not because it was slow or boring in the least, but the subtle nuancing made me really want to take my time and make sure I didn't miss anything. The characters were fascinating enigmas throughout...Reel Life was a thoroughly compelling tale." - Bellas Novella

"Movie buffs, sisters, daughters, mothers, the grown children of sisters--all will hungrily ingest Jackie Townsend's first novel, Reel Life." Curled Up With a Good Book Blog

From the Author

I got the idea for Reel Life: A Novel upon leaving a theater with my sister one evening years ago. Something was different, as if the universe had been slightly altered. Perhaps we disagreed about the film later, over drinks, or laughed about it, I don't remember. Just the thought, leaving the bar, that if you could piece together all the movies you'd ever seen with someone, you could write the story of their lives.

More About the Author

Jackie Townsend is the author of "Reel Life" and "Imperfect Pairings." She is a native of Southern California, and spends a lot of her time in places not her own. As the youngest of four children, she carries a strong sense of family with her to these places, often foreign, and writes about belonging (or not belonging), loss, and love. She lives in New York with her husband.

Follow her blog at jackietownsend.com.

Customer Reviews

The author has her characters down pat.
beddy
This is a finely wrought story of love and confusion, of hope and despair, in a dysfunctional family where sister loyalty tops all and never wavers.
Mary Verdick
Sometimes the story droned on, but that seemed to be the nature of the characters rather than the writing style of the author.
savingsinseconds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Steele Agosta on April 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
From Dorothy clicking together the heels of her shiny red shoes in The Wizard of Oz, to an image of the shoemaker making the red ballet shoes dance in the final scene of The Red Shoes, movies are an integral part of Reel Life, the story of two sisters. Their childhood, teen years, and adult life are played out on a backdrop of contemporary and classic films such as Little Darlings, Blue Velvet, Vertigo, Kill Bill, and even Shrek.

Jackie Townsend, in her debut novel, has masterfully woven together these scenes as she also moves from one sister's point of view to the other's, and from one period of time to another. It's the story of a family that can't connect on the spoken level, and yet, as is true with most sisters, the lifelong sharing of events bind them together. The sisters, Betty and Jamie, may have had different feelings about their parents at times, but their shared experiences of simply being those parents' daughters means they can relate to each other in a way no one else can, not even their brother. He was outside the pairing of "My girls", as their mother liked to call them, as much by choice as gender. When you consider that your siblings represent the longest continual relationships in your life, it's no surprise that they are intense and complicated.

The story is not a light, easy read. In fact, in many places, it's quite dark as the sisters grapple with issues of fidelity, love, illness, motherhood and isolation. Ms. Townsend is able to give a strong sense of place and setting - not only the locales such as Thailand, Washington DC, and a small southern California beach town - but even in the varieties of movie theatres in which the movies are shown. However, despite the darkness, there are threads of hope.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By beddy on June 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A sensitive, beautifully written book. The author has her characters down pat. I can't wait for the next book, which I've ordered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan Dvonch on March 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reel life was different than what I expected, but pleasantly so. It captures the complexities of sibling and parent relationships in a unique and relatable fashion. A vivid reminder that no family is perfect and that we all struggle with our insecurities, disappointments, successes and loyalties, and that even into our forties, we're still growing up and finding out who we really are.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nina Sala-Gault on December 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Appreciate the books offered free for Kindle more than I can say. This book was one of the good ones.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Set against the backdrop of Southern California and the Hollywood spin, Reel Life: Two sisters on the verge escape to the movies spotlights two sisters unable to really communicate or connect with each other or other family members.

To illustrate what does bind them all, movie themes brought the story to the reader, from The Wizard of Oz to The Red Shoes.

Betty and Jamie's individual points of view, their troubles and relationship woes, weave the story between the past and the present until, at the end, we come to enjoy a reconciliation between them as a life event forces them together.

Parts of the story were more captivating than others for me; I enjoyed the dialogue between the sisters, with the bursts of irony that seemed to be their signature style. But much of the story fell flat for me because I truly could not connect to either of them. I wanted to love this story...but it seemed repetitive in parts and bogged down with minutiae in other sections.

I kept reading, though, because I wanted to know what happened, and because the hint of some big reveal aroused my curiosity. In the end, the "big reveal" slid right by with hardly any notice. Perhaps I just didn't "get" the characters; and I see that other reviewers loved this book. Therefore, potential readers should keep in mind that not everyone enjoys the same kind of story. For me: three stars.
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By s_gallegos on August 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
Being the oldest sibling of a brother and sister, I can relate a lot to this story. I think all of us with siblings can! Especially when you have a close relationship with them as I do. Although, yes over the years as we have gotten older the relationship has changed, we are all still very close. Because of the changes that have taken place due to "growing up", it is difficult to figure out what the other person is thinking or feeling at any given time. However the one bond we always share, even when we cannot relate to each other is the bond of family. This story really emphasizes this. These two sisters could not be any more different from each other and have lived two completely different life's but in the end they are still sisters.

Besides this, the author does and amazing job at describing the places that the story takes these two sisters to from Thailand, California to Washington DC. I have never visited any of these places but felt like I was their with the wonderful descriptions she gave. She also does a unique idea in which you start off each chapter with what the sisters are doing in present day and then takes you back in time to what they did in the past to get them to where they are now. This is a great way of really giving you a full story from both the past and the present that helps you really connect to the characters. This was a good read!!
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