Friday, March 30, 2018

Blood Sisters

Title:  Blood Sisters
Author:  Jane Corry
Publication Information:  Pamela Dorman Books. 2018. 352 pages.
ISBN:  0525522182 / 978-0525522188

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Careful"

Favorite Quote:  "... it's the cuts we hide inside that really do the damage. They rub and they niggle and they bruise and they bleed. And as the pain and anxiety grow in your head, they become far more dangerous than an visible open wound. Until eventually, you have to do something."

"Three little girls set off to school one sunny morning. Within an hour, one of them is dead." So begins the description of Blood Sisters. It makes me want to know more.

The year is 2001. Sisters Alison and Kitty are walking to school with Vanessa. Sisterly rivalry is embedded in Alison and Kitty's relationship. "Love is close to hate when it comes to sisters. You're as close as two humans can be. You came from the same womb. The same background. Even if you're poles apart, mentally. That's why it hurts so much when your sister is unkind. It's as though part of you is turning against yourself."

A car accident leaves Alison with minor physical injuries, Kitty with a traumatic brain injury, and Vanessa dead. The emotional scars, of course, run much deeper. From the beginning of the book, a realization exists that deeper, darker secrets lie behind what led up to that day and what truly happened the day of the accident.

Fast forward to present day. Alison is an art teacher, barely making ends meet and barely able to hang on to a semblance of a life. Kitty's brain injury has left her with extensive brain damage, which manifests itself in so many ways including violent tendencies and an inability to speak. She lives in an institution. Yet, now, the past seems to be finding its way to the present for both Alison and Kitty.

With this setup, the books gradually peels back the layers of this mystery. The book goes back and forth between 2001 and 2016. The story of the past builds to what actually happened the day of the accident and why it has ramifications for Alison and Kitty now. The story of the presents leads Alison to a job as an art teacher at a prison (yes, a prison). Kitty's life, such as it is, is disturbed by a face that triggers memories that Kitty cannot quite hold on to and cannot communicate. These are the "dots" the story eventually connects at its dramatic conclusion.

Of the two sisters, Kitty's character is by far the more interesting one. As children, Kitty is the stronger personality and most definitely the "mean girl". It seems that from the time of the accident, Alison seems to remain at that point in her life. As an adult, Alison is portrayed very much as weak. Her decisions and thoughts portray a victim. Kitty, nonverbal and institutionalized, shows more fight.

Mind you, the facts of the mystery itself are implausible and extreme. The premise itself is based on a sibling rivalry that goes so far beyond just rivalry to some cruel actions. Further, the sequence of events that lead to the eventual solution are beyond believable. No spoilers but let's just say the events are memorable in their implausibility.

The interesting thing is that if you can put that aside, the book is very readable. Because I could not have guessed where this book ends up, it does keep me turning the pages to see how this is all going to turn out. In that, the book successfully maintains its suspense which, I suppose, is the point.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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