Sister by Rosamund Lupton
Published by: Crown Publishers
Published on: June 2011
Page Count: 318
My Reading Format: Hardcover purchased from Fountain Bookstore
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook and Audiobook
Beatrice was born in England, but moved to New York City as an adult. She is living with Todd, her fiance, when she gets a call from her mother. Tess, her younger sister, has gone missing. Bea flies to London to help locate her sister who is three weeks shy of her due date. It doesn’t take long before clues to her disappearance take a horrifying turn. She discovers that her sister had already given birth and the baby was stillborn. When Tess’ body is finally found in a filthy public restroom in Hyde Park, it’s ruled a suicide. Bea alone doesn’t believe her sister, even in the deepest reaches of her sorrow, would take her own life. While berating herself for not being there for her sister, Bea vows to do whatever it takes to track down Tess’ murderer.
Sister is told in an on-going letter from Bea to Tess as she relays the story of her struggle for justice to Mr. Wright, a prosecuting attorney. Bea is full of guilt at not being there for her sister. Not just for the birth or to have been there to thwart her murder, but really since she left England for the United States. Bea was the older sister and had been there for Tess when their father left the family and when their brother Leo died from cystic fibrosis. While Bea left to wash away the past in a sense, she always felt close to Tess. Learning about the stillbirth from Tess’ landlord was like a punch in the gut, opening Bea’s eyes to the truth of her participation in Tess’ life. She can’t change the distance, but she can certainly try to make up for it by fighting for her memory and telling Tess the whole story.
While the mystery was wonderful, what impressed me the most about Rosamund Lupton’s debut novel was Bea’s character development. Over the course of the story, she grows phenomenally. So much so that she sometimes questions her own sanity. She returned to England the judgmental older sister who knows what’s best for Tess and feels the need to lecture her when she goes against Bea’s wishes. As she sees how this was no longer working for Tess or for herself, she becomes an unfailing advocate, championing Tess as a human being. She drops what is customary and puts on what is expedient and required to get to the truth. Yet, when necessary, she learns to put love ahead of truth.
Sister is both a love story to a lost sister and a murder mystery. Until Bea is certain, the reader can’t be sure if Tess was murdered or if the loss of her newborn son really did set Tess off the edge. Along the way, I thought I saw the ending clearly several times. I was completely wrong, discovering that there is more to this novel than it’s mystery. It was the depth to the story, Bea’s voice and the structure together that hooked me so deeply that the book almost had to be pried from my hands the closer I came to the ending. I picked this book up initially because the cover gives it a Gothic feel. It wasn’t Gothic, but that didn’t disappoint me in the least. I very much recommend Sister to all of my readers and will definitely be keeping an eye out for Rosamund Lupton’s next novel.