4 out of 4 stars
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Most people don't think of fly fishing as a women's sport, but Michelle Cummings' novel opens a window to the dynamic world of the outdoors and the opportunities and challenges it presents. The Reel Sisters tells the story of five very different women who bond over the sport of fly fishing. These ladies range in age from early twenties to post-retirement and come from very diverse backgrounds.
As the story opens, we are introduced to the original four women, Rose, Sophia, Veronica, and Amanda. These four set off to the mountains to Rose's cabin by the river for a fly fishing weekend. As they are enjoying themselves on the river, their fishing is interrupted when a young woman is swept downstream right toward them. Melody is rescued from the water and brought back to the cabin to warm up. By the end of the weekend, she has bonded with the others and become the fifth member of their group.
The Reel Sisters appears to be a fly fishing book at first. The process and experience of fishing are described in vivid detail, giving the reader a beautiful picture of what is happening and how the fisherwoman is feeling. The story is written in first person present tense with each section moving from character to character. As each woman tells her story as she is experiencing it, the reader feels like he or she is on the journey with them. It quickly becomes apparent that this story is about so much more than the sport of fly fishing. Each woman faces her own set of life's challenges, from Sophie's struggle to find love, to Amanda's difficulties in coping with her husband's deployment while raising two small children. I loved seeing how these women developed strong, supportive friendships. They truly became a group of sisters, always ready to lend a hand, a listening ear, or a shoulder to cry on.
One of the only things I didn't care for so much was the practice of catch and release. I have always struggled with this aspect of fly fishing because it seems cruel to me and no one in my family has ever fished purely for sport. Although I had a hard time with that, by the end of the book the practice of catch and release becomes a beautiful metaphor.
I cannot find a proper category for this book. On the surface, it seems like a sports and outdoors book, but after diving in, it is so much more about the beauty of relationships and the incredible gift of deep bonds of friendship. The story encouraged me to invest more deeply in the friendships I already have and to always be prepared to open my heart to a new potential friend. This book is wonderfully written and the editing is nearly flawless. It unquestionably deserves the rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend it to women of all ages who love a good story with many nuggets of wisdom and encouragement along the way.
The Reel Sisters
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