October 22nd, 2013


Book #56:Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Number of pages: 375

This novel opens with the main character, Beatrice, learning that her younger sister Tess is missing. Tess was recently pregnant, but the baby reportedly had cystic fibrosis. However, despite being cured by some experimental procedure, he died shortly after being born due to other complications.

I thought I could see where the plot of this book was heading until...

[Spoiler (click to open)]

Early on in the book, Tess is found dead, and the novel turns into a whodunit which eventually revolves around shifty gene therapy procedures that Tess was subjected to, the implication being that she was killed because she found out and was going to blow the whistle. However, everybody else insists that she must have committed suicide because of her baby's death.

The novel is written in a very unconventional way, in the form of a memoir written by Beatrice and addressed to Tess in the second person; throughout there are several brief flashbacks to conversations the sisters had with each other. I found it quite interesting and original that towards the end, during the most intense scene in the novel, the narrative kept showing flash-forwards of what was going to happen at the end

The thing I really liked about this book was the depth the main characters were given, and Tess is given a personality very quickly, just through a description of what her house is like, as well as the things she says in the flashbacks. The only issue I had was that the pace of the book seemed quite slow.

The story eventually built up to several unexpected plot twists and a particularly dark finale, the denouement of which (according to the Q&A at the end of the book) was intended as open to interpretation. I thought that overall this was an enjoyable book, and I loved how Beatrice's fight for justice and determination to learn the truth was portrayed. Overall, a good debut novel.

Next book: Sphere (Michael Crichton)
purple icecream

40: A Gate at the Stairs

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 40: A Gate at the Stairs
40 A GATE AT THE STAIRS Lorrie Moore (USA, 2009)

In a post-9/11 America, Tassie is a college student in the Midwest who becomes the nanny of a mixed-race toddler that has just been adopted by an affluent white family.

Lorrie Moore's coming-of-age novel is certainly very ambitious. There're a lot of things she is trying to capture, from post-9/11 anxiety to the traps of racism, via college life. The problem is that she's not equally good with every topic, and as a result, it seems that she's trying to do too much. Fortunately, the good things can be really good.
In A Gate at the Stairs, racism is certainly her forte. Some of the best scenes in the novel consist of a group of people discussing their ideas about the issue of racism and how to solve it in their neighborhoods. Through these conversations, Moore shows the traps even the well-meaning fall into, almost despite themselves.
When it comes to college life, Tassie's isolation may seem a little unusual, but her relationship with her quirky best friend is very convincing. Tassie's voice, filled with humor and arrogance, is also well-crafted and is eventually what makes the novel compelling.
However, there were clumsy bits that eventually brought the novel down. The anxieties of a post-9/11 America were mainly represented by one character in particular, whose relationship with the narrator seemed rushed and whose fate seemed cliche. I wish she'd addressed the subject with more subtlety, one worthy of the genre she chose. Her lack of subtlety showed here and there. For example, there is a scene when the mixed-race toddler asks about her (adopted) father's blue eyes. I'm not saying toddlers never ask about such things, but the scene felt so heavy-handed and cliche, that I was disappointed. It might have worked with a different writer (I heard Toni Morrison wrote a whole book about it); it did not feel right with Moore.