Cover image for Little altars everywhere
Little altars everywhere
Wells, Rebecca, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harper Audio, [1998]

Physical Description:
3 audio discs (approximately 182 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:

Compact disc.
Reading Level:
850 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.3 14.0 63645.
Geographic Term:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
XX(1069870.17) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
XX(1069870.16) Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

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Don't miss Little Altars Everywhere , the New York Times bestselling companion novel that introduces the Ya-Yas and is also a basis for the film.


Chronicling the adventures of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, four eccentric women and their children, Little Altars Everywhere author Rebecca Wells alternates between setting her short stories in the 1960s, when Siddalee Walker, daughter of Vivi, is growing up, and the early 1990s, when Sidda is grown and dealing with the consequences of her turbulent childhood.

Author Notes

Rebecca Wells is an American playwright and author. She is best known for her Ya-Ya series of novels.

Well's novel, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, made the New York Times Bestseller list in 2016.

Wells was born in Central Louisiana and grew up on a working plantation where her family lived since 1795. She currently lives on an island near Seattle.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Siddalee Walker of Thornton, Louisiana, got asthma from her father, Big Shep, and a (literally) wandering eye from her mother, Viviane (Sidda's is repaired by an operation in first grade). But where did Sidda get her perceptive inner eye or the wisdom of a child "born old" or a narrative voice that carries the reader, of whatever age and faith, back to the classrooms of the Penguins of Our Lady of the Divine Compassion, into the uncertainty and terror and anguish of childhood? Siddalee tells about a third of this story, taking turns--through the 1960s and then again in the early 1990s--with Vivi and Big Shep; Willetta the maid and her husband, Chaney, Big Shep's right-hand man; and the other Walker kids, Little Shep, Lulu, and Baylor. Home for her godchild's baptism after years of therapy and success as a theater director in New York, Sidda sees that "all their longing was pure!" and that she "can hold them all and not hurt them. Not save them, not hurt them, just hold them." A hilarious and heartbreaking first novel. ~--Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

The lineage of Wells's first novel can be traced directly to the ``adult children'' literature that has gained popularity in recent years. ``I have one main rule for myself these days: Don't hit the baby. It means: Don't hurt the baby that is me. Don't beat up on the little one who I'm learning to hold and comfort . . . ,'' Siddalee says in the book's final chapter. Her voice, like those of the lesser narrators (sister, two brothers, parents, grandmother, blacks who work for the family), sounds increasingly contrived as the book progresses. The structure doesn't help matters, allocating one or two chapters to most characters--in Part I showing Siddalee and her siblings as children in Louisiana in the 1960s, in Part II the same characters 30 years later. Attempts at black dialect or small-town Louisiana slang are also superficial. The entire book consists of retellings, with little room (or incentive) for readers to share the action. There are some wonderful sections, such as when the grandmother's lap dog has a ``hysterectomy,'' then learns to put dolls to bed as if they were her children, but such moments cannot sustain the reader's interest through more than 200 pages. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In her ``family of stories,'' playwright Wells sets up plenty of ``little altars'' for the numerous members of the Walker clan to kneel at and make confession. This crazy, joyful Louisiana family has its share of secrets--from alcoholism to incest--that are slowly revealed as each person has his or her say. Readers will be most interested in the oldest daughter, Siddalee, whose sheer irreverence and consuming curiosity propels what little plot there is until she finally discovers how to forgive her family. Wells's keen sense of character and superb ear for voice unify the loose assemblage of tales. For Southern literature and large modern fiction collections.-- Rita Ciresi, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Little Altars Everywhere Chapter One Wilderness Training Siddalee, 1962 One thing I really hate about Girl Scouts is those uniforms. They bring out my worst features-fat arms and short legs. Mama tries her best to give that drab green get-up some style, but I just get sent home with a note because the glitzy pieces of costume jewelry she pins on me are against regulations. The only reason I joined Scouts in the first place was all because of merit badges. I wanted to earn more of those things than any other girl in Central Louisiana. I wanted my sash to be so heavy with badges that it would sag off my shoulder when 1 walked. There wouldn't be any doubt about how outstanding I was. When I walked past the mothers waiting in their station wagons outside the parish hall, I wanted them to shake their heads in amazement. I wanted them to mutter, 1 just don't know how in the world the child does it! That Siddalee Walker is such a superior Girl Scout. I love going over and over the checklists for earning those badges in the Girl Scout Handbook . I have eight badges. More than M'lain Chauvin, who constantly tries to beat me in every single thing. 1 have got to keep my eye on that girl. She is one of my best friends, and we compete in everything from music lessons to telephone manners. I was making real progress with my badges, and then our Girl Scout troop leader up and quit right after the Christmas holidays. She said she could no longer handle the stress of scouting. She didn't even tell us herself-just sent a note to the Girl Scout bigwigs, and they cancelled our meetings until they could find someone to take us on. And wouldn't you know it, out of the wild blue, Mama and Necie Ogden decide to take things over and lead our troop. I could not believe my ears. Mama and Necie have been best friends since age five. Along with Caro and Teensy, they make up the "Ya-Yas." The Ya-Yas drink bourbon and branch water and go shopping together. All day long every Thursday, they play bourree , which is a kind of cutthroat Louisiana poker. When you get the right cards, you yell out "Bourree!" real loud, slam your cards down on the table, then go fix another drink. The Ya-Yas had all their kids at just about the same time, but then Necie kept going and had some more. Their idol is Tallulah Bankhead, and they call everyone "Dahling" just like she did. Their favorite singer is Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand, depending on their moods. The Ya-Yas all love to sing. Also, the Ya-Yas were briefly arrested for something they did when they were in high school, but Mama won't tell me what it was because she says I'm too young to comprehend. At least Necie goes out and gets herself a Girl Scout leader's outfit. Mama will not let anything remotely resembling a Scout-leader uniform touch her skin. She says, Those things are manufactured by Old Hag International. She says, If they insist on keeping those hideous uniforms, then they should change the name from "Girl Scouts" to "Neuter Scouts." Mama drew up some sketches of new designs for Girl Scout uniforms that she said were far more flattering than the old ones. But none of the Scout bigwigs would listen to her. So instead, she shows up at every meeting wearing her famous orange stretch pants and those huge monster sweaters. The first official act of Mama and Necie's reign is to completely scrap merit badges, because Mama says they make us look like military midgets. Whenever I gripe about being cut off just as I was about to earn my Advanced Cooking badge, Mama says, Zip it, kiddo. Don't ever admit you know a thing about cooking or it'll be used against you in later life. Now at our meetings, instead of working on our Hospitality, Music, and Sewing badges, they have us work on dramatic readings. They make us memorize James Whitcomb Riley and Carl Sandburg poems and then Mama coaches us on how to recite them. She calls out, Enunciate, dahling! Feel it! Feel it! Love those words out into the air! All my popular girlfriends look at me like: came from a nuthouse. I Just lie and tell them Mama used to be a Broadway actress, when all she ever really did in New York was model hats for a year until she got lonely enough to come home and marry Daddy. Our annual Scout camp-out always comes up just after Easter. I just dread it. I'm in the middle of reading a truly inspiring book called Judy's Journey . It's all about this girl who's exactly my age, and she and her whole family are migrant workers. They have to travel from place to place, living hand-to-mouth. Judy works in the fields and never complains, and she is brave, and a hard worker, and very popular with all the other migrant kids. Her father plays the harmonica, and her mother is so kind and quiet. I fantasize around fifty times a day about being her instead of me. I would just kill to stay in my room and finish that book instead of going on a stupid camp-out, but you've got to do these things whether you want to or not. Otherwise any chance you have at popularity can go straight down the drain and you will never get it back. You have to start early if you plan to be popular. Mama was extremely popular when she was growing up. She was elected Most Well-Liked, she was head cheerleader, captain of the girls' tennis team, and assistant editor of the yearbook. Everyone at Thornton High knew who she was, Even though it sometimes wore her out, she said Hi! to every single soul she passed in the hall. It was a lot of work, but that is how her reputation was built. Mama understands the gospel of popularity and she is passing it on to me so I won't be left out on the fringes. We head out to Camp Mary Alice real early on a Saturday morning. It is twenty or so miles from Thornton, in the deep piney woods. They named the camp for this very famous Louisiana Girl Scout who gave up her entire life for scouting. There is a main lodge built of logs with a huge fireplace at one end, long tables set up in the middle, and a big kitchen at the other end. Not far away, at the edge of the woods, there is a screened-in cabin filled with bunk beds where you sleep. Right off the bat, Necie backs her Country Squire station wagon into the flagpole and bends it in half I'm inside the cabin unfurling my bedroll when I hear this big uproar. I bolt out the door andwouldn't you know it--there is the Girl Scout flag flapping in the... Little Altars Everywhere . Copyright © by Rebecca Wells. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.