Monday, April 6, 2020

"Her Sister's Tattoo"

Ellen Meeropol is the author of the novels: Kinship of Clover (Women’s National Book Association Great Group Read, and literary fiction finalist for the Best Book Award), On Hurricane Island (semifinalist for the Massachusetts Book Award), and House Arrest. Recent essay publications include the Boston Globe, The Writer, and Guernica. Meeropol’s dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children was produced most recently in Manhattan featuring Eve Ensler, Angela Davis, and Cotter Smith. A founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild, Meeropol leads their Social Justice Writing project. She lives in Northampton, MA.

Meeropol applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Her Sister's Tattoo, and reported the following:
The Page 69 Test works surprisingly well with Her Sister’s Tattoo, the story of two sisters caught up in the passion and choices of protesting the War in Vietnam. Rosa and Esther are arrested at a 1968 protest and charged with felonies. On page 69, Rosa is on trial. Esther, who has an infant daughter, is reluctantly testifying against her sister as part of her plea bargain to stay out of prison. This page explains the title of the book and helps develop the previously very close relationship of the sisters. Esther is on the witness stand looking at her sister, who refuses to meet her eyes.
Good thing, because Esther didn’t think she could hold her gaze if their eyes met. Rosa’s lawyer must have given her the same speech Joel recited about how dressing conventionally in court made a good impression on the jury. Rosa wore a white blouse under a loose blue cotton jumper. Her hair was gathered in a matching grosgrain ribbon and she had attached a gold circle pin to the rounded Peter Pan collar. …. Eather stifled a smile. If the jury had X-ray vision, if they could see beyond the gold-plated circle, through the blue jumper and cotton blouse, they would be shocked. Because tattooed on Rosa’s left breast was a small red star, a quarter-in in diameter. Esther knew that tattoo well; it was the twin of hers. … A tattoo is forever, she had thought. Like a sister.
Is a sister forever? What if beloved sisters react very differently to their arrest and charges? What if, when caught up in the criminal justice system, they must make impossible choices? Choices between loyalty to family, allegiance to the truth, and commitment to stopping an unacceptable war?

Rosa and Esther make choices that define their lives in very different but equally profound ways. The consequences become their daughters’ legacies as well, as the daughters try to heal the family political rift.
Visit Ellen Meeropol's website.

--Marshal Zeringue