Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sister: A Book Review

Even though 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 fiancĂ© 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 life.
Chillingly done.

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.”

See what I mean?


1 comment:

  1. Oh my.

    Thriller and mystery types are not for me... to active of imagination! I still get the willies from reading one such book as a teenager. Yikes. Sure glad you liked it though ;-)