I would like thank Net Galley, Bookouture and Louise Jensen for this Advanced Copy of The Sister in return for an honest review.
The Sister is a debut novel by Louise Jensen that follows the story of Grace and her best friend Charlotte, otherwise known as Charlie. Grace is haunted by the death of her best friend and the last words she told her, “I did something terrible Grace. “I hope you can forgive me …” Grace spends her days and sleepless night trying to uncover what Grace has done while also trying to come to grips with all the trauma she has been dealt throughout her life. Told in alternating tenses of ‘past’ and ‘now’, the reader is taken back to a time when Grace and Charlie meet and become best friends as children as they bond over not having father’s. As they get older, Grace encourages Charlie to find her father, to find out who she is. When they turn 18 Charlies mom, Lexie, becomes more of an alcoholic and disengages as a mother. After a New Year’s Eve party, Charlie vanishes, leaving Grace with the words that will haunt her.
“I hope you can forgive me …”
Six years later, Charlie shows back up. Unfortunately, before Grace can begin to understand why Charlie left, Charlie unexpectedly dies. This dredges up moments from the past for Grace, from when her father died, saving her from a car and when childhood friend/enemy Siobhan dies from an overdose. Grace attempts to cope with Charlie’s leaving and subsequent death while dealing with the idea that she herself is always to blame when disaster strikes. She continues life with her long-time boyfriend, Dan. They had moved into a cottage and began a life together. Grace is un-nerved that she feels someone is always following her. She depends on sleep medication even during the day. She finally decides to find Charlie’s father, thinking that may be the link to uncovering where Charlie went and what her words may have met. Dan helps Grace set up social media in an attempt to find Grace’s dad and isn’t long before someone contacts them. Grace comes face to face with Anna, who claims to be Charlie’s half-sister. Anna moves in so she can learn about Charlie and become close to Grace. Events start to spiral out of control and Grace finds herself at the center of a smear campaign involving her work at a pre-school. Important items, such as her much loved necklace that she and Charlie shared, goes missing. She is poisoned at a local coffee shop when someone accidently adds hazelnut (which she is allergic to) in her hot chocolate. Her cat, Mittens, goes missing and is later found in a less than alive state. As the story quickly progresses, we find out who has been following Grace. We discover who Anna truly is. Lexie’s secrets are finally unveiled. And we learn what Charlie really meant by her words.
In an attempt to not spoil this story, I will stop there.
There is absolutely no way you can put this book down once you have started reading it. Grace’s life seems to be barely hanging on by a thread when Charlie sweeps in to save her. Their childhood friendship is one so easily identifiable. They lean on each other and accept each other’s pasts and expect to always be in each other’s futures. I can say that is how all my childhood best friendships were. As a reader, we want so badly for the broken Grace to be healed. Her anxiety becomes your anxiety. You begin to rely on Charlie as she did. Charlie was her protector against hate mail and bullying words. When Charlie disappeared on Grace, it was like she disappeared on you as well. You are saddened and hurt, just as Grace is. When Anna walks in, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Maybe she can be the Charlie that you and Grace need. But when things start to go wrong, I can’t help but detach from Grace. I wanted to yell at her to see the signs!! Anna is easily detested. The way she speaks to Grace, it’s like she is back in grade school, but this time there is no Charlie to save her.
By the end of the book, once all the secrets were exposed, I was left gaping. There were so many twists and turns in this book and once you thought you really had it figured out, the rug was ripped out from underneath you. You cannot help but speed read through this novel. You have to know what happens and with each page a new idea or theory springs to mind. Nothing compares to the way it turns out. The way the characters intermingle in the web of lies and truths and deceit is really unimaginable until it unfolds before your eyes on each page. It’s hard to believe that this is a debut novel. It is woven so perfectly, the reader is satisfied, yet craving more. I cannot wait for more work from this author! I would definitely add this to the top of any reading pile!!
Follow Louise Jensen at her website here