Monday, February 21, 2011

The Good Sister, by Drusilla Campbell

The Good SisterSimone has always been different, fragile.  Growing up, Roxanne, her sister, was always responsible for taking care of her, making sure life was not too difficult.  It is a pattern that continued into adulthood, putting a tremendous strain on Roxanne's life and relationships.  Why must she always put Simone first?  But no one expects Simone to react so harshly to the realities of life.  When Simone attempts to kill her children, Roxanne is faced with how hard it is to truly be a good sister and do the right thing.

What a powerful, dramatic novel this is.  The themes in the book, including parental abandonment, abuse, mental illness, and postpartum depression, are not easily approached, but Campbell does so with finesse.  I really loved the character of Roxanne, and like that we learn about her history.  While her childhood was pretty unhappy, she is not a tragic character.  In fact, her struggles seem to have made her more determined to find happiness.  I do think Simone, on the other hand, is terribly tragic, and yet I do not empathize with her all that much.  I find her to be a willing victim, and to enjoy her own helplessness most of the time.

The book is very engaging, and hard to put down.  In fact, I read it in one day.  The non-linear storyline leaves you wondering exactly what is going on, which you do not find out until almost the very end, so you have to push forward, through Simone's decline, to get to the place in time where the book actually starts.  I think that structure worked very well for the book, and quite enjoyed it.

Overall, this is a sad tale, and one that seems ripped from recent headlines about mothers harming their children.  While not an easy book to handle, emotionally, I think it is a wonderful novel that I would highly recommend.


A touring review copy was provided for courtesy of Crazy Book Tours.