Flight Patterns by Karen White

Flight PatternsFlight Patterns by Karen White
Published by NAL
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

Georgia Chambers has spent her life sifting through other people’s pasts while trying to forget her own. But then her work as an expert of fine china—especially of Limoges—requires her to return to the one place she swore she’d never revisit…

It’s been thirteen years since Georgia left her family home on the coast of Florida, and nothing much has changed, except that there are fewer oysters and more tourists. She finds solace seeing her grandfather still toiling away in the apiary where she spent much of her childhood, but encountering her estranged mother and sister leaves her rattled. 

Seeing them after all this time makes Georgia realize that something has been missing—and unless she finds a way to heal these rifts, she will forever be living vicariously through other people’s remnants. To embrace her own life—mistakes and all—she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep…

I am a Karen White fangirl. I love her Tradd Street series, have read and loved several of her standalone novels, and when I met her at SIBA a couple of years back (and got to have dinner with her!) I almost lost my mind. Although I haven’t read any of her recent novels, she’s one of those authors I’ll always go back to for comfort reading. Flight Patterns was a comfortable, enjoyable read, which is what I expected, but I have to admit that it wasn’t one of my favorite of her novels. I liked the book enough, but it didn’t exactly wow me.

There is a lot to appreciate about this book. Georgia is the kind of character the reader really wants to root for – she’s clearly made some mistakes in her life, and is running from something in her past, yet the reader can feel that she’s tried to atone for whatever it is she’s done wrong. It’s obvious that she’s tried and succeeded to make something of her life, something beyond the life that she left behind all those years ago. When Georgia’s mother, Birdie, comes onto the scene it’s apparent that she is at least part of Georgia’s issues, and at least some of the reason why Georgia left her hometown.

Maisy, Georgia’s sister, does not come across as the kind of character that the reader can easily like. She’s prickly and everything she says seems to be a deliberate jab at Georgia. She obviously doesn’t want Georgia around and makes that crystal clear by what she says and does anytime Georgia comes near her. It was difficult to read about this relationship between sisters that was SO strained, but there is some growth to their relationship throughout the book, which was nice to read about and made me come around to Maisy a bit.

Most of White’s books have some kind of romantic intrigue happening, and this book was no different, although it took quite a bit of time to get there. I liked what she did with the romantic elements of the book, but I would have appreciated a little more of it and slightly earlier in the story, too.

What I didn’t love about the book were two major things. One was simply that it felt too long. It felt, to me, that White could have told the exact same story perhaps even a bit better with 50-100 fewer pages. At a certain point, I felt bogged down with too many details, things moving too slowly, and I almost felt bored. The other thing I disliked about Flight Patterns was that there were a few secrets that needed to be uncovered, a few from just the reader and a few from the characters. The major one that was supposed to be a big reveal to the reader was obvious from the very beginning, and that annoyed me. If I was supposed to be surprised by it, I most definitely was not. The other big reveals were less obvious, but still easy to figure out, and maybe not as “big” as to cause the huge repercussions that they caused.

So, Flight Patterns. I liked you but didn’t fall in love with you. Karen White is still an author I can depend upon to deliver sweet, comfortable stories of women finding themselves amidst family drama and sometimes ghosts, and I will continue to seek out her novels. Especially those Tradd Street novels – are there more? Or perhaps another mystery series in development? I’d take some of that, please.

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

The Night StrangersThe Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
Published by Crown

From the publisher:

In a dusty corner of a basement in a rambling Victorian house in northern New Hampshire, a door has long been sealed shut with 39 six-inch-long carriage bolts. 
The home’s new owners are Chip and Emily Linton and their twin ten-year-old daughters. Together they hope to rebuild their lives there after Chip, an airline pilot, has to ditch his 70-seat regional jet in Lake Champlain after double engine failure. Unlike the Miracle on the Hudson, however, most of the passengers aboard Flight 1611 die on impact or drown. The body count? Thirty-nine – a coincidence not lost on Chip when he discovers the number of bolts in that basement door. Meanwhile, Emily finds herself wondering about the women in this sparsely populated White Mountain village – self-proclaimed herbalists – and their interest in her fifth-grade daughters. Are the women mad? Or is it her husband, in the wake of the tragedy, whose grip on sanity has become desperately tenuous?   

The result is a poignant and powerful ghost story with all the hallmarks readers have come to expect from bestselling novelist Chris Bohjalian: a palpable sense of place, an unerring sense of the demons that drive us, and characters we care about deeply.

The difference this time? Some of those characters are dead.

I feel compelled to start by saying that I LOVE Chris Bohjalian and have pretty much loved everything I’ve read from him. So I was surprised and disappointed when I didn’t love The Night Strangers, didn’t even like it much, in fact. For many reasons, the book just didn’t work for me.

I didn’t feel drawn to any of the characters in the book. I felt for Chip, sure, what he experienced when his plane went down and all of those people were killed was absolutely devastating and I cannot imagine feeling responsible for such a tragedy. But I didn’t connect with him in any real way, and that made it difficult for me to truly care about his situation. With Emily, again I felt for her – having to move to a new town and start a new life and having to live with a husband who has PTSD, all while holding down a job and caring for two children is certainly something I cannot imagine having to deal with – but again, I felt no real connection to her so it was just surface-level caring on my part. And I felt the twins were kept at arms’ length from me, that I wasn’t able to truly get to know them.

Second, the ghost story part of the book. I like a good ghost story as much as the next person. To me, this wasn’t a “good” ghost story. It was simply a few ghosts, from the plane that crashed, scaring Chip. Or were they even ghosts? Was that his PTSD talking and they were all in his head? The reader never really knows, which can be cool, but in this case I found it relatively annoying. Especially when Chip started going off the deep end – I just didn’t get it.

And then we have the herbalist women. My absolute least favorite thing about the entire book. They felt SO out of place among the rest of the novel. I just could not with these women. And the ending? Not a fan, not even a little bit.

Basically … I found the entire book to be uneven and not very cohesive. It’s very likely a case of this particular book and this particular reader not being a good match, because truly I have loved most everything Bohalian has done and I will continue reading his novels. But this one will never be one I can recommend.

Missoula: Rape and the Criminal Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College TownMissoula: Rape and the Criminal Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
Published by Doubleday

From the publisher:

Missoula, Montana is a typical college town, home to a highly regarded state university whose beloved football team inspires a passionately loyal fan base. Between January 2008 and May 2012, hundreds of students reported sexual assaults to the local police. Few of the cases were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical.

In these pages, acclaimed journalist Jon Krakauer investigates a spate of campus rapes that occurred in Missoula over a four-year period. Taking the town as a case study for a crime that is sadly prevalent throughout the nation, Krakauer documents the experiences of five victims: their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the skepticism directed at them by police, prosecutors, and the public; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. These stories cut through abstract ideological debate about acquaintance rape to demonstrate that it does not happen because women are sending mixed signals or seeking attention. They are victims of a terrible crime, deserving of fairness from our justice system. Rigorously researched, rendered in incisive prose, Missoula stands as an essential call to action.  

I have been putting off writing this review because I don’t even know what to say. It is absolutely insane to me that we still have to convince people that there is only one reason ever that a woman is raped: because someone decided to rape her. Not because she drank too much, not because she let a guy she didn’t know well walk her home, not because she wore tight clothes, not because she started fooling around with a guy and decided to stop, not for these reasons or any other reason besides the fact that someone chose to rape her. The fact that culturally and within the criminal justice system it is regularly assumed that the woman did something to “cause” her own rape or that the responsibility is on the woman somehow to prevent being raped is absolutely fucking ridiculous and I cannot believe we are still talking about it. I’m sickened by the whole conversation.

That being said, this book is incredible. To say that it is disturbing and sad and infuriating is also true, and to some people it may be very eye-opening. Nothing in the book was a surprise to me because I have read a lot about and studied how rape is treated in our culture and within the criminal justice system so I knew exactly what to expect while reading the book. But I was still amazed by Krakauer’s ability to get to the bottom of the issue, the real problem of rape that exists on college campuses specifically (although rape occurs everywhere, of course, the book specifically focuses on one college campus).

There’s not a whole lot more I need to say here, other than please read this book. To say it is a must-read is one of the biggest understatements ever. Oh, and the audio is pretty great, too.

Comics I’ve Been Reading Lately

This year, I’ve really tried to jump into the world of comics in my own way. I had never really read comics before, but after trying Saga and Fables and loving one and not so much the other, I decided to continue trying more. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

Saga, Volume 5Saga, Volumes 2-5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Published by Image Comics

This series is truly a wild and crazy ride and I absolutely love it. There is interplanetary warfare, star-crossed lovers, all kinds of species living together in harmony and in the total opposite of harmony, tons of female badassery and a central plot that revolves around one family’s undying love and support for each other. I haven’t reviewed each individual volume because, to be honest, they all kind of run together in my head as one full story, but I’ve enjoyed every second I’ve spent inside this world and with these kick-ass characters.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 2:  Friendship to the MaxLumberjanes, Volumes 1 and 2 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, and Maarta Laiho
Published by BOOM! Box

Lumberjanes is an adorable and quirky comic series about hardcore lady campers who constantly have major challenges to what is supposed to be a fun camping experience with friends. The first volume is a little bit crazier than the second, which delves a bit deeper into character development and has fewer hi-jinx, but both volumes were really fun to read. I loved how the characters are so very different, yet together they make this amazingly tight-knit group of friends who really care for each other. I loved that Stevenson sprinkles so much feminism throughout what the girls say and do. I had really high expectations for this comic in particular before I started it, so I am not sure I fell as much in love with it as I was hoping I would, but I really, really like it and will definitely continue the series.

Alex + Ada, Vol. 1Alex + Ada, Volume 1 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughan
Published by Image Comics

This one REALLY hooked me. The basic premise is that Alex’s grandmother sends him an X5, the newest model of realistic androids, as a companion for him. Alex had no interest in this type of companion, and almost sends it, who he names Ada, back at one point, but decides against it. Then things get interesting. I seriously loved this comic and am so excited to see where it goes. The end was a pretty big cliffhanger and I’m really looking forward to reading the next volume. I think this will end up being an absolute favorite series of mine.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No NormalMs. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphoma
Published by Marvel

This comic is about an ordinary Muslim girl named Kamala living in Jersey City who discovers that she has a hidden superhero-like power and personality inside of her. I had really high hopes for this one, and I really liked it, but it wasn’t quite as incredible as I was expecting. I’m thinking I will need some time for the characters to develop before I really fall in love. But I did like it! I enjoyed how fast-paced things were once the superhero powers came to light, and I loved how the internal struggle Kamala had to deal with balancing her “normal” self with her new self was shown on the page. Also, who doesn’t want more diversity in books? I am sure young Muslim girls who don’t see a ton of people who look like them or share similar beliefs to their families’ beliefs will love seeing Kamala on these pages. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of this series.

You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour

You Know Me WellYou Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
Published by Text Publishing
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

You Know Me Well is a tender and joyful young-adult novel tracing the powerful friendship of two lovesick teenagers—a gay boy, Mark, and a lesbian girl, Katie—over the course of Pride Week in San Francisco. Told in alternating chapters, You Know Me Well explores how Mark and Katie help one another overcome heartbreak, fractured friendships and the dizzying speeds of change.

I’ll start with what I liked least about the book to get it out of the way. Mark and Kate meet at a gay bar, while Kate is hiding from this girl she really likes and Mark is dancing on the bar to impress this guy that he really likes, their eyes lock, they start talking, and instantly they were best friends. That part was not believable to me in the least – maybe it’s because I’m an old lady who needs to get to know a person before becoming BFF with them. But either way, their instafriendship reminded me of the instalove that is so annoying in books.

Other than that, I was really charmed by this adorable story of teenagers dealing with love, heartbreak and growing up. So often books that feature LGBTQ kids or adults are focused on the conflict that being gay causes in the persons’ life, or the internal struggle to come to terms with the characters’ sexuality, or a combination of the two, but this book wasn’t really like that. There is one character who is unwilling or unable to be honest with himself, his peers, and his family about the fact hat he is gay, and while that character is central to the story, for the most part Mark and Kate’s close friends are all gay and all completely happy, comfortable, well-adjusted and supported by their families. This was so refreshing to see and gave the book such a positive, happy vibe that I really enjoyed.

While I liked both Mark and Kate, I think I felt more compassion for and connection to Mark. His struggle of being in love with his best friend and not having that love returned to him was just heartbreaking. In the end, he handled the situation in such a mature and thoughtful way and I finished the book almost feeling proud of him. Yes, you can be proud of a fictional character. It’s a thing. I liked Kate too, but I thought her actions were a bit more selfish and a little flighty, to be honest. Part of that stemmed from her being scared of going after what she really wanted in life, but I wanted her to grow up and figure things out already. In the end, she sort of does, so I was happy with her character development throughout the novel.

Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I think teens in particular would really like getting to know these characters, and gay teens might find a lot to appreciate about the way these authors wrote gay characters who are happy, healthy, and proud to be exactly who they are.

Dear Emma by Katie Heaney

Dear EmmaDear Emma by Katie Heaney
Published by Grand Central Publishing

From the publisher:

Harriet, the author of her college newspaper’s pseudonymous student advice column “Dear Emma,” is great at telling others what to do, dispensing wisdom for the lovelorn and lonely on her Midwestern campus. Somehow, though, she can’t take her own advice, especially after Keith, the guy she’s dating, blows her off completely. When Harriet discovers that Keith has started seeing the beautiful and intimidating Remy, she wants to hate her. But she can’t help warming to Remy, who soon writes to “Dear Emma” asking for romantic advice.

Now Harriet has the perfect opportunity to take revenge on the person who broke her heart. But as she begins to doubt her own motivations and presumably faultless guidance, she’s forced to question how much she really knows about love, friendship and well-meaning advice.

This book was so much fun! It was almost a one-sitting book for me, which almost never happens these days. And the ONLY reason I didn’t finish it in one sitting was because I had to stop reading to cook dinner and hang out with my husband. I promptly finished reading it the next morning, so a two-sitting book it ended up being. But still – a two-sitting book almost never happens lately, either!

I’m not going to lie and say that Dear Emma deals with subjects in any depth or is something to be taken seriously – it’s basically a few girls in college thinking and talking endlessly about their problems involving schoolwork and boys. BUT IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. I liked all of the characters, but truthfully the only character the reader really gets to know is Harriet, as the entire book is told from her first-person point of view. And so much of what happens is Harriet thinking over a situation to DEATH. But that’s what happens when life is: class, studying, watching TV, drinking, sleep, repeat. With a tiny bit of work thrown in there for some people. I think that Heaney captured the college experience, for most people, incredibly well and I think many college students will relate to the book. I also think many people who have been in college will relate to the book in a nostalgic manner.

Personally, I both related to the book and did not relate at all. I related because I also went to college in central Illinois (ISU, which is a school they refer to in the book several times) so location-wise the book felt extremely familiar to me. I didn’t relate because the characters in the book are all relatively privileged when it comes to their financial situations and I did not have that experience. When I was in college, I worked multiple jobs at once in order to pay tuition, housing, food, etc. – I simply didn’t have the parental support finance-wise that the girls in the book enjoy. I never really had the experience of waking up on a Sunday at 10:30 a.m. with nothing to do but watch TV all day because I had a job to go to most mornings if I wasn’t in class. But as I said – I enjoyed the book a lot! Just because my college experience was different from the one portrayed in the book doesn’t make it anything other than different.

Hmm, I’m realizing I don’t have a ton more to say about Dear Emma. Just that I liked it a lot, will definitely read more from this author, and it was fun. Did I mention I almost read it in one sitting? Oh yeah, I did. Anyway – fun book! Read it if you like this kind of thing.

Confess by Colleen Hoover

ConfessConfess by Colleen Hoover
Published by Atria Books

From the publisher:

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

You know what, this was an enjoyable novel that was an extremely quick read. I loved Hoover’s Maybe Someday, so I was anxious to pick up another one of her novels, and Confess did not disappoint. It didn’t quite have the edge that Maybe Someday had, but this was still a fun read.

I liked Auburn and I liked Owen and they were great together, too. I do have to say that the whole “girl gets confidence because a guy tells her to be confident” thing is annoying, and I didn’t love that Auburn only felt that she could stand up for herself once Owen told her she should, but I’m choosing to pretend that is not the central theme of the book (it’s not. Well maybe it kind of is. Whatever. I liked it anyway, okay?!) The relationship with them was a bit of the instalove variety, but they shared so much about themselves in a short period of time that it wasn’t JUST a physical thing, which I appreciated.

I’m not going to pretend that important things in the novel weren’t wrapped up in unrealistic, tidy little bows, because they definitely were, but I liked it anyway. I think that what Hoover chose to do with her characters was slightly out of the norm and I was happy with how everyone’s stories ended up. Yes it was too pretty of an ending, but so what? I had fun reading it.

After just two of Hoover’s novels, I can see that she has a distinct style that I both love and could possibly get annoyed with very quickly. For that reason, I’m going to shy away from her books for a bit so that the annoyed part doesn’t happen. For contemporary YA bordering on new adult, I do really like her and would recommend picking up her books.

Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

Don't You CryDon’t You Cry by Mary Kubica
Published by Mira
Review copy provided by NetGalley

From the publisher:

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew.

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.

I hate hate hate to say this, but I did not love this book. I am not sure that my feelings for it even approach like. Here’s the thing: I was hoping for a thriller. An edge-of-your-seat, can’t-put-it-down, heart racing, thriller. That’s not really what this novel is. There is a LOT of build-up. A lot a lot a lot. To the point where it almost felt like nothing was happening until the very end when BOOM everything happens all at once. And perhaps because I was hoping for something else, I was disappointed by that.

There are two stories running throughout the book: Quinn’s and Alex’s. It’s obvious that they are connected in some way, but exactly how they are connected is unclear. I have to admit that while I thought I understood the connection from the start, I was very wrong, and I do have to give it to Kubica for that – she definitely surprised me.

I wasn’t a fan of Quinn. Her roommate was missing and it seemed like she still managed to make the entire situation all about her. How about make the situation about Esther? Instead, she kept looking for and finding clues that Esther either hated her, or was angry with her, or was disappointed with her, or was keeping secrets from her – she had the situation so revolved around herself it was just weird to me. And there was a non-romance situation with a guy who had a girlfriend, which just felt like it didn’t belong in the story in any way.

Alex I liked, but he was much more young and innocent, a “good person” in an obvious way, so it’s no wonder I liked him. I understood why he was intrigued by Pearl and hopeful to get to know her better, but it was obvious from the beginning that the whole situation was bad news and he probably should have just run like hell in the other direction. I also think that his back story could have been explored a bit more in-depth, but I suppose he wasn’t exactly the point of the book.

I’m sad to say I didn’t enjoy Don’t You Cry too much. Obviously I finished it, so there’s something, but truthfully it felt way too slow for almost the entire book, just to hit me over the head with a huge revelation at the end. Not exactly what I was hoping for when I decided to read a thriller. I have enjoyed one of Kubica’s novels in the past, though, so I’m certainly not giving up on her!

What I’ve Been Cooking Lately – week 3

So. I didn’t have AS successful of a cooking week as I would have liked, but I did make a few things. I ate leftovers or stuff I quickly threw together three times this week – including one night where I made my tried and true standby of all-veggies-in-the-fridge-go-into-fried-rice (which you’ll learn happens about once a week, sometimes more if I’m running low on ideas and time). I also ate at restaurants twice this week, once with friends and once with the hubby.

BUT. I did make some stuff. First, I made another pizza with fried egg on top, but this time I used basil pesto as the base instead of traditional pizza sauce. I LOVE pesto and can find reasons to substitute it for all kinds of things, but as pizza sauce is probably my absolute favorite – followed closely by in pasta, with a touch of cream. YUM. Anyway, the pizza was delicious and I highly recommend pesto on pizza if you haven’t done it already. And egg! Egg on pizza is amazing, too, but I think I’ve preached that already.

I cooked another meal that was cooking TWO new recipes in one night. Friends, that never happens. Just one new recipe is usually enough to stress me out. But these two both sounded super quick and easy, and the flavors were so similar I thought they’d really pair well together. I made baked lemon butter tilapia from Damn Delicious, with lemon butter green beans from Budget Bytes on the side. I was right – the combination of these two recipes was great and the meal couldn’t have been easier to put together. I also have to say, of all the cooking/recipe blogs I follow, these two are by far my favorites. Every recipe I’ve made from either one of them has turned out great and not one I’ve tried has been too complicated to make on a weeknight. I highly recommend both sites and both of these recipes.

Also, I have to tell you guys that earlier this year I got a rice cooker and it has changed my life. I always loved eating rice but hated cooking it. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I had trouble getting the right proportion of rice to water to cooking time, and sometimes my rice would turn out perfect and other times it would be either a soggy mess or dry and crunchy. I never have this problem now because my rice cooker does everything for me and it really has made it possible for me to have rice anytime I want. Now you know why I make fried rice once or twice a week – I always have cold leftover rice in my fridge!😉

Sister by A. Manette Ansay

SisterSister by A. Manette Ansay
Published by Harper Perennial

From the publisher:

Abigail Schiller lives a seemingly normal childhood in a rural Catholic community in Wisconsin. But that life is shattered when her younger brother, Sam, vanishes at the age of seventeen, fleeing their father’s rigid rules of masculinity and the violence their mother denies. Finally, thirty years old and expecting a child of her own, Abby is determined to retrace her lost sibling’s dark descent–embarking upon an emotional journey that will test the strength of her spirit, and contradict everything, she once believed about her family and herself.

A stunning work of rare poignancy and unsettling power, A. Manette Ansay’s Sister marks the literary maturation of a truly exceptional voice in contemporary American fiction. Deftly spinning triumph out of tragedy, the award-winning author of Vinegar Hill offers us a fresh understanding, of family, memory, faith. Abigail Schiller lives in a seemingly normal childhood in a rural Catholic community in Wisconsin. But that life is shattered when her younger brother, Sam, vanishes at the age of seventeen, fleeing their father’s rigid rules of masculinity and the violence their mother denies. Finally, thirty years old and expecting a child of her own, Abby is determined to retrace her lost sibling’s dark descent–embarking upon an emotional journey that will test the strength of her spirit, and contradict everything she once believed her family and herself.

I’ve had this book on my TBR shelves forever. During the heyday of Oprah’s Book Club, I read and loved Ansay’s Vinegar Hill (about which I remember nothing), so I grabbed this one at a used book store years ago hoping to one day pick it up. I think this is the kind of novel I have to be in a particular mood for: quiet family drama where there is a big thing in the background, but generally speaking not much happens. The best thing I can say about this novel is that the writing was good and I halfheartedly cared about the characters. Is that bad? It was just okay.

One thing that bothered me immensely about the book is that Abigail’s father is extremely abusive and that abuse is never discussed or dealt with in any real way. As this is the second book in a row I’ve read with a similar abusive family situation that is not addressed, it particularly bothered me. He’s verbally, emotionally, sexually and mildly physically abusive. It was all kinds of terrible, and yet Abigail never once addresses it with either of her parents. It was difficult to read about, especially because it was clear that Abigail and Sam were truly damaged by the abuse they suffered and unable to voice their anger about it.

The ending was generally what I was expecting, so it wasn’t disappointing exactly, just not shocking at all. It was … boring? I guess is the best way to put it.

I was hoping for more from Sister. I certainly didn’t hate the novel but it was just okay.