Getting the Important Things Right

By Padgett Gerler

Genre: Adult Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Reading about any sort of family drama can oftentimes stir up painful memories of our own family dramas, this book is not an exception. The Albemarle family is one that has too much inner drama going on. Ma’am and the Colonel are very reminiscent of parents that maybe shouldn’t have been parents. The perfect (on the outside) southern military family, inside they are barely raising their three children, Sis, Percy and Oops. Right there should tell you something about the parents that the third child’s nickname is Oops.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Sis, the middle child. Sis’s proper name is Lydia, after her mother, but no one calls her Lydia, instead she is known by Baby Girl, to her father, Dear to her mother and mother’s friends, and Sis to nearly everyone else. Percy is the oldest. He is almost invisible to his father, the Colonel, or worse, a disappointment. Every boy wants the approval of his father, and Percy spends his life either railing against his father’s wishes or doing whatever he can to earn his approval. It is not an easy life for Percy.

Lastly comes Oops, officially named Sophia Colleen. Oops, being five years younger than Sis, pretty much ends up raising herself. Percy and Sis have no time for Oops, finding her more of an annoyance than a sibling. Poor Oops is left without both parents and siblings giving her any attention, instead raising herself, teaching herself to read, and becoming quite independent.

Sis tells this story through her life, sharing insights about how she was raised. Her friends, her experiences, and marriage, her alcoholic mother and abusive/neglectful father. We follow Sis from school through college through marriage. We find her repeating mistakes of her own mother. Percy finds a substitute for a father, and through this, is able to make his own peace with his life.

Not an easy read, because the subject matter can sometimes be very dark, but a worthwhile read. I so wanted to see everyone move forward to have happy lives, but that’s not always reality. This book is exceptionally well written and quite a story. I couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out.

This gives you some insight into the mess that the Albemarles call a family. Getting the Important Things Right could be just another drama about a crazy southern family, but it’s not. It’s a lesson in perseverance and family. How no matter how much we find our family to be dysfunctional or annoying or horrible, we still love then and want their acceptance. It was nice to have insight into what drove Ma’am and the Colonel to be the way they were, even if their behavior was deplorable.

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