Best friends. Besties. BFFs. The importance of having a special best friend is SO very important to adolescent girls. Sometimes these important friendships last until adulthood. Some are lifelong. Some end in death…
Grace Matthews has had a traumatic childhood. She lost her Dad in a traffic accident when she was young and has always blamed herself for her part in his demise. Her Mum surrendered to her grief and was unable to look after Grace which precipitated Grace leaving the Devon coast which she loved and going to live with her grandparents in Oxfordshire.
Grace’s first day at her new school is memorable in that it is then she meets and befriends Charlie – her BFF. Both girls are fatherless which strengthens their bond. Charlie gives Grace a necklace that is half of a heart. Charlie wears the other half… If they only knew that hearts would really be broken.
When the story starts the reader is aware that Grace is now a young woman in her late twenties AND that Charlie has died. Grace has spent four months grieving her beloved friend and is only now beginning to come to terms with her loss. Part of her healing process is to dig up a memory box that she and Charlie buried when they were fifteen years old.
Charlie’s last words to Grace were “I did something terrible, Grace. I hope you can forgive me”.
The reader wonders along with Grace… What could Charlie have done???
Grace now works in a preschool. It is a job she loves and she is very fond of the children who attend the school. She lives with her boyfriend, Dan who went to school with her and Charlie. She has a pet cat, Mittens, whom she adores. All in all, life is good if it were not for missing Charlie.
Then Anna enters her life. Anna is the sister that Charlie never knew about. A half-sister. She reminds Grace of her dead friend and wants to help her out of a bad patch. She invites Anna to come and live with her and Dan temporarily until she gets back on her feet.
The reader gradually comes to realize that Anna is manipulative and dangerous. Grace is naively unaware and I wanted to scream at Grace to watch out for her! So frustrating! Horrible things start to happen. Grace’s paranoia increases – with good reason as it turns out…
Written in two time periods labelled “NOW” and “THEN” with the ‘then’ taking the reader back to the girls’ adolescence, the novel explores the corrosive effects that guilt and betrayal can play upon the psyche. It also questions if we can every really know another person. Everyone has secrets, hidden depths that they choose to not share.
“The Sister” is an assured debut thriller that will be appreciated by all fans of the genre. The tension mounts as Grace’s life and everything she holds dear is increasingly put in jeopardy. A chilling novel rife with suspicion and revelations doled out in increments to make the tension palpable, “The Sister” delivers an ending twist that thriller readers will appreciate.
Check out my interview with Louise Jensen.
Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of “The Sister” in exchange for my unbiased review.
Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.
Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.
Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a madcap spaniel and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.
is this suitable for teens?
I would say that older teens would really enjoy this novel. Perhaps not those under fifteen…
This sounds like a page turner, and of course, the notion of betrayal is apparent. I like the motif of a long-lost sister preying on her innocent half sister. Loved this review
Love your review, Lynne. I want to read this.
Hope you enjoy it Christine!
Great review! I really enjoyed reading this one as well. 🙂
For a debut novel, it was great. The reason it lost 1/2 star was because I found Grace’s character to be a bit weak. However I can blame that on her many losses and her dependence on prescription drugs.
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True, I had the same problem with Grace even though it is kind of logical with all she had to suffer.
I’m halfway through the first Anne of Green Gables book, and there’s so much emphasis on bosom friends. Really, though, I remember feeling betrayed about a thousand times by my best friends from girlhood. Why can’t everyone been as lovely and kind as Diana Barry?!
Also, I like that this book is labeled NOW and THEN. Though it’s helpful that authors label books something like 1995 and 2015, it’s still a bit hard to read because you instantly have to remember the cultural context. What were things like 1995 compared to 2015? Would the character do or say X, or would he/she have access to Y?
I agree with you about the ‘now’ and ‘then’. I have read many novels with two time periods. A lot have the date listed. One I remember had no delineation whatsoever which was VERY confusing.
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The ones that go back a long time, like 50+ years, are really hard! I mean, I remember 1995 clearly, so that wouldn’t be a struggle, but the ones that are like, “1908” and then “2016” make me all puzzled.