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Authors: L. Alison Heller

The Never Never Sisters

BOOK: The Never Never Sisters
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Praise for

The Never Never Sisters

“A poignant, powerful story about family, friendship, and the true nature of love.”

—Beth Kendrick, author of
Cure for the Common Breakup

Praise for

The Love Wars

“Every character in this warm, witty contemporary novel felt so refreshingly true
to life.”

New York Times
bestselling author Liane Moriarty

“Heller writes with the perfect balance of razor-sharp wit, intelligence, and empathy.
Briskly paced and entertaining.”

—Meg Donohue, author of
All the Summer Girls

“Heller’s narrative is a breath of fresh air—fun and quick-witted. Delightful from
beginning to end!”

—Chick Lit Is Not Dead

“A fantastic summer read.”

—Teresa’s Reading Corner


The Love Wars

New American Library

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © L. Alison Heller, 2014

Readers Guide copyright © Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2014

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices,
promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized
edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning,
or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting
writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.



Heller, L. Alison.

The never never sisters/L. Alison Heller.

pages cm

ISBN 978-1-101-59325-7 (eBook)

1. Marriage counselors—Fiction. 2. Sisters—Fiction. 3. Family secrets—Fiction. 4.
Domestic fiction. I. Title.

PS3608.E453N48 2014

813'.6—dc23 2013050247


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is
entirely coincidental.


To my mom and sister—whose love and goodness I know as well as anything—and also to
my dad, whose love and goodness we remember


Ms. Kerry Donovan, you are a writer’s dream come true: smart, talented, passionate,
crazily efficient, a highly entertaining lunch date and a supportive friend to boot.
Thank you, K, for all of that and specifically for kicking the stuffing out of the
Reinhardt Sisters (editorially, of course). I’m beyond grateful!

Big thanks, of course, to Elisabeth Weed, as well as to the wonderful team at NAL:
Kara Welsh, Isabel Farhi, Daniel Walsh, Jane Steele, Katie Anderson, Alissa Theodor
and everyone else who helped this book evolve from manuscript to novel.

I’m blown away by the thoughtfulness of the following dear friends, who, in the midst
of their own busy lives, have provided support and/or an ear and/or a boost at a crucial
moment: Diane Simon, Joanna Costantino, Kevin “Easter Egg” Costantino, Donna Karlin,
Matt Karlin, Konrad “No C” Tree, Toni Guss, Jenny Guss, Lois Ravich, Carroll Saks,
Anne Joyce, Jacqueline Newman, Lori Dyan, Jen Hsu, Justin Hsu, Bethany “Emoji” Chase,
Meg Donohue, Solana Nolfo, Patty Lifter, Michele Brown, Carolyn LaMargo, Ginny Markovich,
Amy Montoya (for beans and more!) and Neil Bagchi. Hugs and kisses to all whether
you want them or not!

For their time and valuable wisdom along the way, thanks to Alice Peck, Alicia Cowan
and Tanya Farrell.

To my wonderfully generous online pals (you know who you are): thanks for helping
to spread the word about my books—meeting you has been a true joy. And to the book
clubs who so generously hosted
The Love Wars
, and with whom I had the most exhilarating discussions, thank you! I look forward
to seeing you again very soon.

Thanks to Samantha Heller, the world’s best and most overused first reader, Sue Ann
Heller, Kate Ostrove, Edith Roberts, Raj Bhattacharyya and, of course, Kannon and
Dashiell Bhattacharyya, my incredible nephews (who have been blessed with PowerPoint
skills as prodigious as their enthusiasm).

And, of course, to Zoe, Gigi and Glen: thanks (infinity times infinity times infinity’s
worth) for making it all worthwhile.

Finally, two books in particular were helpful to me as I imagined and wrote this novel:
Addict in the Family
by Beverly Conyers and
by David Sheff.


Praise for L. Alison Heller

Also by L. Alison Heller

Title Page








chapter one

chapter two

chapter three

chapter four

chapter five

chapter six

chapter seven

chapter eight

chapter nine

chapter ten

chapter eleven

chapter twelve

chapter thirteen

chapter fourteen

chapter fifteen

chapter sixteen

chapter seventeen

chapter eighteen

chapter nineteen

chapter twenty

chapter twenty-one

chapter twenty-two

chapter twenty-three

chapter twenty-four

chapter twenty-five

chapter twenty-six

chapter twenty-seven

chapter twenty-eight

chapter twenty-nine

chapter thirty

chapter thirty-one

chapter thirty-two

chapter thirty-three

chapter thirty-four

chapter thirty-five

chapter thirty-six

chapter thirty-seven

chapter thirty-eight

chapter thirty-nine

chapter forty

chapter forty-one

chapter forty-two

chapter forty-three

chapter forty-four

chapter forty-five

chapter forty-six


chapter forty-seven


About the Author

Readers Guide

If ever two were one, then surely we.


If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.



I do is offer them candy. I keep a jar of it, well-stocked, right there on the coffee

In my experience, people are one hundred percent less likely to tell a lie with a
Hershey’s Kiss tucked into the side of their mouth. So while they’re unwrapping their
chocolate or caramel or whatever, I lob the easy questions at them: How long have
they been together? Do they have any kids?

And then, once they’ve relaxed a little, settled into the beige couch across from
my blue chair, I probe: What do they want out of our meeting? If I sense from one
of them a certain reticence, as I did that Tuesday morning, I repeat the question.

I’ve found it helpful, when pressing for the truth, to lean forward and hold eye contact.
So I employed this method as I posed the question once more to both Scott Jacoby and
his wife, Helene.

“What. Do.
. Want?”

Helene—a tiny, feminine woman with the brash voice of a New York City traffic cop—stared
back at me with an electric gaze. “To save our marriage.”

I’m not sure how I developed this particular niche, but usually the couples who I
meet with in counseling sessions aren’t in need of mere tune-ups. No one asks me for
tips on how to stoke an already ignited passion or to help mediate a dispute so that
both parties feel sufficiently heard. My clients come to me in full-on crisis mode,
swinging from the broken rope bridge of their marriage—the point at which they’ll
either let go into free fall or scramble to safety.

Scott was still silent, his arms crossed over his navy suit jacket. I hadn’t yet determined
whether he was annoyed at having to leave work in the middle of the day or if his
body language was a symptom of greater marital fatigue.

He stared across the room in the direction of the photo I’d hung on the wall. It was
a picture from my wedding two years before, not that my clients could tell this, because
it was of our midsections and taken from the back: my white silk veil, the dark block
of my husband Dave’s tux, our interlocking forearms. I hoped it was generic enough
that people would see in it their own happier times, but Scott’s unfocused eyes indicated
that he wasn’t envisioning anything so hopeful.

“What do
really want, Scott?”

Waiting for his response, Helene leaned so far forward in her chair that she appeared
to be praying. I’ve seen a lot of heartache in my office, but it took my breath away—those
troubled eyes in the middle of that frozen, perfectly made-up face.

“Scott?” My voice was as gentle as it could be.

Finally, Scott sighed, then rubbed his cheek with his right hand. “I don’t know what
I want.”

“Okay.” I took care to sound appropriately neutral. “Take some time. Try to think
about it.” I pushed the candy jar toward him. It should be said that I buy only the
good stuff: Hershey’s Kisses, Werther’s, Reese’s Minis—none of those nubby little
mints or hard candies with wrappers in the image of strawberries to help you associate
the flavor.

Although I know better than to take it personally whether my clients’ marriages work
or not . . . I can’t help myself. I take it all very personally.

Dave had pointed out the irony of this when I came home one day and declared I was
a failure. (I was right on that count; the Guinetts did not make it.) “You ask them
what they want, right?”

“Yes.” He’d left out the second part, the “why,” so I reminded him. “It’s like an
oral contract. They commit to wanting the marriage to work in that initial moment
and it’s helpful later, when things get tough.”

“But if you keep having to remind them what they want, how do you know it’s still
truly what they want?”

“You wouldn’t understand,” I had said. “It’s a very intimate environment in my office.”
I didn’t have a good response right then, but two days later, when I heard his key
in the lock, I met him at the door with a spatula. “Listen,” I said.

He’d stepped back, out of the range of the spatula, which had dripped marinara sauce
in a large splotch in the entry hall. “Listening.”

“If people come to me, they want to protect their marriages. There’s nothing wrong
with wanting to help them—okay?”

He’d leaned down and kissed my head. “Okay.”

As I explained to Helene and Scott how we could proceed, that was the undercurrent
I tried to convey: that I respected their step toward protecting the sacred and that
I would help them as best I could.

I will always remember that—the three of us sitting in the office, clustered around
the candy jar, as we pledged to resuscitate their marriage, me just the tiniest bit
smug, totally oblivious to the fact that at that exact moment, my own marriage had
begun to fall apart.

BOOK: The Never Never Sisters
4.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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