This is one of those books that is written so beautifully and thoughtfully that by the time you finish it, you wonder how this could possibly be Jamie Kain’s debut novel. This book provides the reader with a powerful, thought-provoking experience that will leave you wondering until the very last chapter. The characters are so well-written and developed, and you can tell that a lot of care was put into crafting their personalities and contributions to the story. Even the dialogue between the characters is stunning and enjoyable to read, and it takes readers ever deeper into the story page by page.
Sarah, Rachel, and Asha are sisters, and while they love each other, their relationship has often been strained…and by strained, I’m talking way more unsettled than your typical “sister-drama” kind of relationship. Sarah, the oldest, has spent a lifetime battling cancer, going into remission and then relapsing, and having to go through the pain and suffering all over again. Asha, the youngest, is the sister who has the compatible bone-marrow, so she is able to donate it to Sarah, to help her get well. Rachel, being the middle sister, neither the daughter who is sick or the daughter who can help, is often nudged aside and forgotten, and because of that, she develops a lifetime of bitterness and resentment.
Now, Rachel lives her life by working as a waitress at a diner, going through boyfriends and not taking anything seriously. Asha is becoming a rebel, drinking, getting tattoos, and spending all of her time with her best friend, Sinclair. Their parents are living separate lives now; their father took a new job and rarely ever sees his girls, and their mother has a new boyfriend and a new wardrobe and just about a new everything else.
However, when Sarah dies, Rachel and Asha are all each other has left, along with a bunch of unanswered questions. Did Sarah really fall off that cliff while hiking, or did she jump? What was going through Sarah’s mind during those last few weeks before her death? What was she hiding?
“Life, it turns on a complicated array of gears we cannot see. A heart that beats can go still in the space of a moment. Breath can vanish before we’ve had a chance to say good-bye.”
Sarah, however, wakes up somewhere in the afterlife, and can see the things going on in her former life. She can see her mother and sisters going about their lives. She sees her memorial service. She watches from afar, and wonders where exactly she is. She tries to deal with what has happened, and what is yet to happen, while helplessly watching her family carry on their lives without her.
Without Sarah, the girl who had once held the family together, they all must struggle to stay afloat, and Rachel and Asha try to figure out their lives. When Asha discovers Sarah’s devastating secret, she really begins to wonder if her death was really an accident, or if there was more to it.
This book is as powerful as it is beautiful, as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It was a stunning debut novel that tells a story of a sister that might not have been as perfect as everyone once thought. It is one of those books that makes you look at young adult fiction in a whole new light – definitely something different and easy to get lost in.
Don’t even get me started on the amazing character-development that happens in this book, either. While reeling from Sarah’s death, it’s natural that everyone is going to have a difficult time with it, and the different reactions from each character are fully explored and made for a deeper, richer reading experience. The way the characters change from the start of the novel to the end is interesting…if you’re big on this kind of development in a book, instead of just flat characters with no personality, you definitely need to check this one out.
I can’t say enough great things about this book. It had such a mysterious edge to it that kept you guessing about Sarah’s death to the very end, and Sarah’s parts in the novel were a nice touch, as well. It was interesting to read about things from her viewpoint, even though she was in the afterlife.
The Good Sister is definitely one of those rare books that are making it to my “must read again soon!” shelf.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.