Book Review: What Happened to My Sister

What Happened to My SisterWhat Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock
Publisher: Ballentine Books
Release Date: August 7, 2012
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Nine-year-old Carrie Parker and her mother, Libby, are making a fresh start in the small town of Hartsville, North Carolina, ready to put their turbulent past behind them. Violence has shattered their family and left Libby nearly unable to cope. And while Carrie once took comfort in her beloved sister, Emma, her mother has now forbidden even the mention of her name.

When Carrie meets Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin, these three generations of warmhearted women seem to have the loving home Carrie has always dreamed of. But as Carrie and Cricket become fast friends, neither can escape the pull of their families’ secrets—and uncovering the truth will transform the Chaplins and the Parkers forever.

Carrie is a heartbreaking character. Her mother is so horrible I just wanted to reach through the book and punch her. I found the fact that Carrie still loved her mother even though she abused her terribly, and that she even made excuses for her mother’s behavior authentic and real. This is something I’ve learned about in my foster parent training – the biological tie between a parent and child is very strong and children will still love their parents after almost anything, frustrating as that can be to people trying to help the child.

I was a little bothered by a few things that seemed unauthentic and pulled me out of the story. One of them is when Carrie is severely beaten up by her mother and goes to Cricket’s house. Cricket’s dad, a police officer, is there along with the rest of Cricket’s family and even though Carrie is in and out of consciousness, no one suggests taking her to the hospital. I would think a police officer would know better than that.

Also, the very ending did not seem realistic to me. That’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. But if you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the ending.

Other than those quibbles, I really enjoyed this book. It was the kind of book that I walked around in a fog thinking about when I had to tear myself away from reading it. It’s full of surprising plot twists. The book alternates between Carrie and Honor’s point of view. I thought the author did a good job writing Carrie’s point of view – I know it can be hard when the narrator is so young.

This book didn’t have as many charming Southern idioms as most of the Southern fiction I’ve read, but I’ll quote my two favorites:*

“And she’s being as sweet as honey on a pretty girl’s finger.”

“they’ll haul you out of here so fast it’d bring tears to a glass eye.”

This book is being marketed as a stand-alone novel but it has the same characters from Elizabeth Flock’s novel Me & Emma, which I have not read. I didn’t have any trouble following What Happened to My Sister and I agree that it can stand alone. However, knowing that there was a previous book out there made me really curious about what Carrie’s life was like before she and her mother left Hartsville. I’m going to have to read Me & Emma since I enjoyed this book so much.

*quotes are taken from an uncorrected review copy – the final copy may differ

Come back after the weekend – I’ll be giving away a copy of What Happened to My Sister to one lucky reader!

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book. Check out the other tour stops:

Tuesday, August 7th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Wednesday, August 8th: Book Addiction
Monday, August 13th: WV Stitcher
Tuesday, August 14th: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, August 15th: Seaside Book Nook
Wednesday, August 22nd: Reviews by Molly
Monday, August 27th: Life in Review
Tuesday, August 28th: The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, August 29th: The Lost Entwife
Thursday, September 13th: A Novel Source
TBD: Kritter’s Ramblings
TBD: Marybeth Whalen

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