Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What Happened to My Sister, by Elizabeth Flock

Carrie is such a lonely child, she has invented a younger sister named Emma.  For a while those around her indulged the fantasy, but now that Carrie and her mother have moved to a new town, Emma is a taboo topic.   For Carrie, though, Emma seems so real, so she mourns the loss of her, silently and secretly.  When Carrie meets Cricket, another girl who knows what it is like to lose a sister, the two bond instantly.  Cricket and her mother Honor become a sort of substitute family for Carrie, and she becomes a substitute for their lost loved one as well.  Together, they discover some shocking information about Carrie's family.

This book had a bit of a slow start to me.  I did not realize that it was a follow up book to a previous story, Emma and Me.  While the book functions as a stand alone novel, I would hedge a bet that a lot of Carrie's character development happened in the previous book, which made it so difficult for me to jump in.  When the narrative changes from Carrie to Honor a few chapters in, I was pretty confused at first, because it was initially unclear how the two stories were related.  Once the young girls meet, however, the stories converge, and the book really takes off.

I actually liked the juxtaposition of the narratives of Honor and Carrie.  Carrie is the daughter Honor lost, and Honor is the mother Carrie never had.  From pretty much the first page, I totally despised Carrie's actual  mother.  I had a strong negative reaction to her as a character, she is nothing more than an abusive monster.  Abuse is a big theme in this book, as are the concept of being wounded in some way and creating your own reality.

When I started the book, having to slog through the first few chapters, I thought for sure I would hate this book.  I am certainly happy I stuck it out, because it ended up being a pretty good story.  I am interested in now reading the first book.  The plot is a little predictable, but it did surprise me in the end.  Fans of dramatic fiction should definitely give this book a try.

I received a review copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine program, in exchange for my honest review.

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