Sunday, 12 August 2018

Review: 'The Sister' by Louise Jensen

Ominous last words, a friendship that may not have been what it seemed, and a new friend who is suspicious. These are a few of my favourite things and The Sister employs most of them to great effect. Moving between the past and present, Jensen's The Sister sketches a portrait of a woman on the brink, trying desperately to claw her way back. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 26/6/2018
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

"I did something terrible Grace. I hope you can forgive me..."
Grace hasn't been the same since the death of her best friend Charlie. She is haunted by Charlie's last words, and in a bid for answers, opens an old memory box of Charlie's. It soon becomes clear there was a lot she didn't know about her best friend.
When Grace starts a campaign to find Charlie's father, Anna, a girl claiming to be Charlie's sister steps forward. For Grace, finding Anna is like finding a new family, and soon Anna has made herself very comfortable in Grace and boyfriend Dan's home.
But something isn't right. Things disappear, Dan's acting strangely and Grace is sure that someone is following her. Is it all in Grace's mind? Or as she gets closer to discovering the truth about both Charlie and Anna, is Grace in terrible danger?
There was nothing she could have done to save Charlie... or was there?
At the heart of The Sister is friendship and guilt. Like many other current psychological thrillers The Sister is fascinated with the adolescence of teenage girls, the highs of friendship and the lows of betrayal. The friendship between Grace and Charlie centres the novel and is the relationship around which most of it revolves. Thinking back to my own adolescence and childhood I do remember the intensity of the smallest thing, so seeing the almost obsessive nature of the friendship and of Grace's questioning of it does make sense. Jensen does take it a step further by looking at guilt and its many different forms. We all carry some guilt around, whether it's regretting something we did or regretting something we didn't. The Sister shows this in different ways and in different relationships, between children and parents, husband and wife, friend and friend. Where is the line and what happens when it's crossed? I know there are a lot of questions here, but who doesn't love a book that asks questions?

At the beginning of The Sister we find Grace slowly trying to recover from her best friend's death, but as she tries to do so the past comes back to haunt her and her life slowly begins to fall apart again. I did enjoy much of The Sister, its twists and its turns, but whereas some things remain a mystery to Grace, I feel the reader figures some things out way quicker than she or any of the other characters do. Especially Anna was both fascinating and frustrating since she was rather untrustworthy from the beginning. Part of this is also down to the title. I mean, come on. I don't want to spell it out but surely we all know that titles like these can be major giveaways unless they're actively misleading or only suggestive. Think of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Rebecca is at the heart of the novel, centring the mystery, and Du Maurier wants you to be just as focused on her as her main character. In this case Jensen's title isn't as successful, unfortunately.

Louise Jensen knows how to keep the pace. When a novel switches back and forth between the present and the past, it's difficult to make sure both narratives keep a reader's attention. Jensen uses Grace's past as a way to both inform the present and confuse it. What happened? Why did it happen? And how long will the repercussions last? Grace's voice is strong throughout the novel, even if at times she isn't the most likeable of narrators. Jensen doesn't intend for her to be though, not shying away from showing that no one is perfect and everyone has their vices. In the end The Sister tries to show that forgiveness needs to happen and that this forgiveness can hide behind different and surprising corners. Despite the fact that not all of The Sister was as surprising or smooth as I would have liked, I did enjoy it and raced through it, heading towards the inevitable but juicy conclusion.

I give this novel...

3 Universes!

I enjoyed The Sister, even though it was quite obvious at times where it was going. However, there were some great scenes which offered a lot of promise so I will definitely keep my eye out for Jensen's next book.

No comments:

Post a Comment