Four sisters named after their mother’s favorite movie stars, Bette Davis, Loretta Young, Rita Hayworth and Sophia Loren along with brother Cary Grant Gabaldon come of age in this multilayered story spanning two decades. After the premature death of their mother, the Gabaldon children grew up under the tutelage of Fermina, their father’s venerable American Indian housekeeper. As the girls grow up, Fermina tells each of them that upon her death, they will receive a special gift although she never alludes to what those gifts might be.
With the ancient Fermina’s passing, the girls come to believe she has gifted them with special talents. Vivid imaginations and natural abilities lead them to fall into distinctive behaviors where Loretta is a healer, Bette is an accomplished liar, Sophia can bestow the gift of laughter and Rita has the ability to cast curses on people. As the young women grow up, they begin to wonder more about their beloved Fermina as they struggle with the burden of their “gifts”, what unfolds is journey of self-discovery.
Each chapter tells the story from a different sister’s perspective as they grew into adulthood in LA from the early sixties to the eighties. Lopez has created a warm, intimate view of the bonds that tie sisters together with Fermina’s remarkable life serving as a fascinating subplot. The finely nuanced Mexican American characters add an additional layer to this rich, lovingly told story.