Rosamund Lupton’s debut is a novel of siblings. The sisters are 26 and 21, not so far beyond teen readers in years. The entire novel is a letter from the older sister to the younger, now deceased. The directness of the narrative voice will appeal to young adults. Also, as the review’s final sentence makes clear, this is a compelling murder mystery that also deals with emotional family and identity issues.
On Sunday, Sister garnered a full page New York Times book review, capping the buzz generated by its presence on both the Amazon Best of the Month and Indie Next List for June. Not to mention its popularity in the U.K. last year.
And finally, I am a fan of surprise endings and this is rumored to have a great one.
LUPTON, Rosamund. Sister. 319p. Crown. 2011. Tr $24. ISBN 978-0-307-71651-4. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–Beatrice Hemmings has left her native London and is leading a safe, structured, superficial life in New York City. Upon hearing that her sister Tess is missing, Bee races home. Shortly after she arrives, Tess’s body is found. Bee’s mother and fiancé are willing to believe the initial finding that Tess committed suicide, and fault Bee for refusing to accept it. Bee knows that Tess would never have killed herself and begins to ask questions, relying on everything she knows about her sister to unravel the mystery. Propelled by the sad family history that inadvertently put Tess in a dangerous situation, Bee sheds her safe skin and plunges headlong into the search for answers. Like Graham McNamee’s Acceleration (Laurel Leaf, 2003), Sister takes readers on a twisted, dangerous journey where Bee’s desire to find the truth is so compelling that her realization that she may not survive the hunt comes much too late. Lupton’s portrayal of Bee’s evolution from a person who keeps everyone at arms length to one willing to confront anyone or anything (including her own assumptions about other people), is subtle and credible. She leaves readers thinking hard about Bee’s motivation and willingness to make substantial sacrifices. This gripping novel moves in unexpected directions, keeping readers fully engaged in the story. Teens will find this especially appealing as it goes beyond crime drama to explore issues of identity, family, and trust.–Carla Riemer, Berkeley High School, CA