The silent sister

From  Andrea  Kalinowski

Author:  Diane  Chamberlain

Title:  The silent sister

“I know that the lies in our family hurt all of us, especially Danny and myself. Growing up in a household where something is terribly wrong, you feel the weight of that mysterious something even though it’s unspoken. It eats at you. Confuses you. It leaves you wondering if your view of the world will ever make sense.” The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain was an unexpected surprise hit with me. It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law. She could not stop reading the book and neither could I.

A young woman returns to her father’s house to clean out his home and to settle his estate. She thinks her only relative is her brother, who is perceived, by her and others, as being mentally ill. In the cleaning process, secrets of her sister’s suicide are unearthed and shed new light on the family dynamics. Lisa was seventeen when she committed “suicide” and it was this “suicide” which changed the family’s dynamic from a cohesive functioning family unit to a dysfunctional mishmash. Danny harbors his own resentments about Lisa’s familial role and the transformation that is wrought by her “suicide.” The discovery of newspaper articles detailing the real story behind the “suicide” set Riley off in search of the real story. The full scope of the deception forces Riley and Danny into a new and uncertain familial future. Our choices today really do have a ripple effect even though we may not perceive them clearly at the moment of decision. The Silent Sister was an excellent, suspenseful read. I give it four stars.

Necessary Lies

From Robin McCracken

Title:  Necessary Lies

Author:  Diane Chamberlain

In 1929 to 1975 a North Carolina Eugenics Sterilization Program was put into place for “Mental Defective” as they put it, a newly hired social worker finds it hard to the follow the rules and encounters many detours in helping the families she promised to do right by.

Diane Chamberlain writes the character of Jane Forrester to be a kind, compassionate person who cares very much about her job and the values of others.  When she decides to act against the system, all hell breaks out for her and the families’ she is working with. A must read.

 

Vinegar Hill

From Mahnaz K.

Title:  Vinegar Hill

Author:  A. Manette Ansay

A young family is forced to move back from Ohio to their hometown in Holly’s Field, Wisconsin for economic reasons. Life with her in-laws proves to be stifling for the young mother as she tries to raise her family under the critical eye of her in-laws who are very much hardened by the rigid Midwestern farm life of Wisconsin. Ansay portrays the emotional and psychological abuse people sometimes experience in close relationships with honesty and compassion.

Mockingbird

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Kathryn  Erskine

Title:  Mockingbird

Just this past year, I have been reading some of the titles my nephew has been reading and, boy, was I pleasantly surprised by the advanced themes they tackled. My nephew is eleven and his recommendations have included Dave at night by Gail Carson Levine, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, Out of my mind by Sharon M. Draper, and Wonder by RJ Palacio. All of these books deal with children in unique situations. Out of my mind is an expose of a young girl trapped by cerebral palsy in a silent world while Wonder deals with a young boy with two facial deformities. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine was my latest read of his recommendations and it was terrific. A young girl, suffering with Asperger’s Syndrome, is forced to come to terms with her brother’s death. Asperger’s Syndrome can be characterized by problems with social skills and communication difficulties. The main character, Caitlin, struggles to show empathy and make friends. She has difficulty understanding why her brother’s death is so hard for her father. Devon was Caitlin’s main instructor in how to cope with life and she now needs to learn new coping techniques. Caitlin and her father, according to Caitlin’s research in her best resource, a dictionary, need to find “closure.”  Caitlin is not sure how to attain closure but she and her father triumph in the end and attain their goal of closure.

Chestnut Street

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author:  Maeve  Binchy
Title:  Chestnut Street 
Chestnut Street is a collection of short stories published posthumously. The common thread is that all of the characters live on the same street, albeit with different lives and circumstances, and serve as proof that appearances can be deceiving. People can differ significantly from the images they project (although you’ve never met such a large cast of philandering husbands and deserting fathers in any of Binchy’s prior works). The stories seem a little disjointed at times, yet you’ll still hear the lilt of the characters’ accents as you read along, and you’ll still wish that there would be more Maeve Binchy books to come.