The Good Sister (St. Martin’s Press) by Sally Hepworth is entertaining, captivating and addictive. I love her storytelling, atypical characters and the tricky twists and turns which are always surprising in the end.
Rose and Fern are sisters: Rose is the responsible one, married with a white picket fence and a seemingly perfect life while her sister Fern is quirky and a bit unusual. She works at the local library, keeps a strict routine that helps with the sensory processing issues that set her apart from most people and relies on Rose to keep her in line.
They had a tumultuous childhood and together they carry a sinister secret. Rose has looked out for Fern their entire lives, so when Fern learns that Rose can’t have a baby she decides she will pay her back by finding a man, making a baby and then giving it to her sister. When secrets from their childhood come out, the sisters are at odds.
“Sisterly relationships are so strange in this way. The way I can be mad at Rose but still want to please her. Be terrified of her and also want to run to her. Hate her and love her, both at the same time. Maybe when it comes to sisters, boundaries are always a little bit blurry. Blurred boundaries, I think, are what sisters do best.”
THOUGHTS FROM THE AUTHOR OF A THOUGHT-PROVOKING NOVEL
I loved this story that is heartwarming and mysterious and causes you to question the reliability of the characters as the plot thickens. The Good Sister takes on neurodiversity in a beautiful way and with a happy ending, true form for Sally Hepworth. I highly recommend giving it a read.
“People without sisters think it’s all sunshine and lollipops or all blood and guts. But actually, it’s always both. Sunshine and guts. Lollipops on blood. Good and bad. The bad is as essential to the relationship as the good. Maybe the bad is even more important because that’s what ties you together.”
We’ll close with some pertinent thoughts from a Sally Hepworth interview below.
Sally Hepworth has no sisters, but her mom is one of five and all her friends have a sister. She has two daughters, so she learned about sisterhood by watching them. Sally comes from a neurodiverse family and wanted to have a character with similar challenges to be represented in the book, but not have that be the most interesting part of her. In The Good Sister, Fern has no specific diagnosis because the story is meant to entertain and for us to see the characters play out their journey. We live life through Fern’s eyes in the book, yet we learn about Rose’s perspective through her journal entries, giving dimension. Add in the truth, and this leaves us three sides to the story and we must determine who is most reliable. Hepworth believes people are mostly good at their core, and this plays out in an enjoyable and hopeful way.
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