Friday, March 21, 2014

Fiction Review: The Good Sister

I rarely read thrillers anymore. I still enjoy them, but I used to read mystery/suspense novels almost exclusively, so I guess I kind of overdosed on them! So, when I recently listened to The Good Sister by Wendy Corsi Staub on audio, it was definitely something different from what I usually read now, but I enjoyed it. I remembered why I used to enjoy suspense novels so much, as I had trouble setting my iPod down!

The first chapters focus on a man who has returned to his childhood home in Buffalo, NY, to sell the house after his mother dies. It is obvious right from the first paragraph that some strange things went on in that house and that there was some sort of abuse present in his family, and by the end of the first chapter, the reader also knows that this man is a killer. The story than switches to the point of view of Carley, a teen girl attending the same Catholic high school, Sacred Sisters, that her mother, Jen, attended in the same Buffalo neighborhood. Carley is being bullied by her classmates, but she keeps that a secret from her mother. Soon, Jen and Carley and the rest of the community are shook up as a series of mysterious deaths occur among the local teen girls.

At first, I wondered where the suspense was in this novel, since you know right from the first chapter who the killer is. It turns out that this is one of those thrillers more concerned with why than with whodunit. It’s a convoluted plot, with many twists and turns. I did guess at some of the why midway through the book, but the author still had plenty of surprises in store for me – all the more surprising because I thought I had things all figured out!

Like most thrillers, there is quite a bit of violence in this novel, as well as some very disturbing incidents. The story focuses heavily on social media’s role among today’s teens, with its ripped-from-the-headlines elements of online bullying and kids seeking online support from strangers whom they trust too quickly (again, no spoilers here that the author herself doesn’t reveal early on). It’s a scary story for parents of modern teens. But it is also a creative and suspenseful story that kept me in earbuds almost constantly for a few weeks!



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