Rosamund Lupton's debut novel Sister worried me as it began
with the salutation of a letter addressed to her sister [that type of
narrative can be tedious], she surprises with a fresh and unusual
approach to a story of familial relationships and the grief of loss.
When Bee's mother
calls her in New York City to tell her that her younger sister Tess
is missing in London, career centered Bee hops a plane, leaves fiancé
and job behind, and sets herself up in her sister's flat to seek
answers to her disappearance.
When Tess is found
dead and the coroner and police rule it a suicide, everyone abandons
the investigation. Bee knows her sister too well to believe this
conclusion as she would not take her own life and “subject those
she loves to such grief.”
Thus, Bee begins
her own inquiry into what really happened to her sister, and along
the way, as Lupton drags us into the single-focused mind of Bee, she
provides some well-done twists and turns. The bonus of the book comes in the thriller like atmosphere of Bee's search.
In addition, Lupton's just good at writing as her strength
lies in her understanding of the bonds of family, especially in a
family familiar with death and loss; her descriptions of the pit of
grief seem to be ones that only some one with a first-hand knowledge could provide.
Bee fully shares her anguish. She captures Bee's brokenness, one that seems representative of a person who loses the hope that a loved one will be found and slides, screaming and flailing, into the reality of the finality of a tragic and violent death for that person.
Her prose led
me to pause with its raw honesty as well as insightful observance of modern
One of the passages
that really resonated with me, so much so that I marked it to make
note of here, describes Bee's thoughts at the location of her
sister's death, which she visits after the closed investigation:
I tried not to think of your being
there for five nights, all alone. I tried to cling to my Chagall
image of your leaving your body, but I couldn't be sure of the time
frame. Did you leave your body, as I so fervently hoped, the moment
you died? Or maybe it was later, when you were found, when your body
was seen by someone other than your murderer. Or was it in the
morgue when the police sergeant pulled back the blanket and I
identified you – did grief release you?
The bouquets[laid at the death scene] made sense to me now.
Decent people were trying to fight evil with flowers, the good
fighting under the pennants of bouquets. I had not understood before
why anyone would think a family whose child had been shot would want
a teddy. But now I did; against the sound of gunshots, a thousand
compassionate soft toys muffled a little their reverberating horror.
“Mankind is not like this,” the offerings say, “we are not like
this. The world isn't only this way.”
Lukas bundles up for Georgia cold the Friday before his celebration.
A month ago the family gathered at the sweetest church, Hickory Flat
Methodist [my brother's church: I loved its charm, its
congregation, its preacher -- its small town feel] for the baptism of the grand 'phew.
The family, those who were geographically compatible, surrounded Lukas as he was baptized, and he cooperated fully as the minister carried him down the center aisle and around the back of the church for the congregation to see him and vow to his Christian upbringing.
What a sweet moment.
Amy, Lukas, and David
Being Palm Sunday, the minister preached on Jesus's confidence as he rode into Jerusalem
fully aware of what awaited him. The choir sang "The Old Rugged Cross,"
and those words of that hymn are deeply moving and beautiful.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown
At the end of the service, the children of the church weaved around the sanctuary waving the fronds, and the members of the congregation held theirs aloft as we all sang, "Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest."
Andrew, another phew, not a grand one, but a first cousin once removed from Lukas, and I pose with our piece of greenery.
Grand uncles and aunts, grandma and grandpa, aunt, and a prospective aunt, uncles, first cousins once removed, and the proud parents stood at the front of the church for a picture.
After the baptism,
we headed back to the grandparents' house where we feasted in grand [no pun intended] style with chili [German chili, according to the chef and proud papa, made with secret ingredients], green as well as fruit salads, fabulous corn bread, and dessert.
The dessert needs to be mentioned --- Cuarto Leches cake and Bailey's Irish Coffee cheese cake.
I had a piece of each -- cause I could.
Aunt Angie and Lukas
Kayla, resplendent in high heels, cracked me up as she held Lukas. Celebrity mom, anyone?
By the way, Lukas and his parents currently reside in Karlsrule, Germany.