The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller
Published by NAL Trade
Unsolicited review copy provided by the publisher
From the publisher:
Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.
As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?
This novel appealed to me because I find myself attracted to books about sibling relationships, although to be honest I can’t think of a ton in recent memory that have actually done the complicated relationship between sisters justice. The Never Never Sisters comes pretty close to one of the best I’ve read in that aspect in the past few years. The sisters in this book are basically strangers when the book begins, but over time they get to know each other and end up pretty close by the end of the novel. While Paige’s relationship with her estranged sister is the focus of a lot of the novel, there are lots more issues happening here too – issues in her marriage, rocky relationships with her parents, and even the issues that her clients are facing come up throughout the novel. But although there’s a lot here, it never feels bogged down with all the issues. Instead, Heller handles each of these things with respect and unfolds the story and its issues out for the reader slowly, in a way that gets the reader more and more invested in Paige and her life as the book progresses.
I could really sympathize with Paige in her dealings with her estranged sister. My sister and I are about as opposite as two people can be, and for many years we didn’t get along well at all. We just didn’t get each other whatsoever. That all changed when my niece was born and my sister and I developed a bond unlike anything we’d shared in our lives up to that point, but all that being said, I completely understood Paige’s struggles to understand her sister and empathize with her. The two of them were just SO different, and they had such different life experiences because of the large age gap between them, it was a miracle they managed to find a way to connect at all. It was emotionally rewarding for me to read as the two of them knit their lives and personalities together in such a way that they came to truly understand and love each other.
The Never Never Sisters was the kind of book I really couldn’t put down. I truly found all of the complicated relationships and dramas to be incredibly compelling, and I was so invested in Paige that I absolutely needed to find out how things would end up for her. There’s a lot Paige discovers about her family, her marriage, and herself, and it was truly an enjoyable experience for me to be on this journey with her. Highly recommended.