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  • Mandy McHugh

The Good Sister, Sally Hepworth: A Review

This is a 2021, release, but with such an interesting premise, I knew I had to dive in. St. Martin's puts out some of my favorite titles, and The Good Sister did not disappoint.

Fern and Rose are fraternal twins. Their entire lives, they've only had each other to depend on. But when Fern learns Rose wants a baby (but can't have one), their relationship begins to change. Told in alternating POVs of Fern and Rose's diary, the sisters struggle with their past, a tragedy that occurred one night when they were children, and their competing viewpoints of the world. Phew, it's hard to summarize without giving away spoilers. This book was excellent. Multi-POVs can be tricky, because oftentimes one (or more) of the voices can be less successful than the other. This is not the case with The Good Sister. Both Fern and Rose provide excellent context and insight into their behaviors. While both were good, I *LOVED* Fern. Rarely do you see a neurodivergent voice take front and center in a first-person narration. Fern's sensory processing disorder is an important part of not only her character, but to the plot, as well. Hepworth did an amazing job developing the world through Fern's eyes. Her personal struggles to relate to others, her sensory processing, the feeling of being overwhelmed--an action such as going to a bowling alley becomes sensory overload, and until I read Fern's perspective, it never occurred to me just how much stimulus is happening in a seemingly-mundane activity. I really appreciated her observations and clever quips. The mother, too, in the flashbacks and in the current timeline, was an excellent side character, adding just enough creep factor to strengthen your investment in the girls. Complex mother/daughter relationships give so much additional depth to this book, and Hepworth highlights perspective and heartbreak beautifully. As a side note, I'm not usually a fan of romantic subplots, but Wally stole my heart. Fern and Wally's dynamics were sweet, quirky, and refreshingly honest. I love when characters communicate. So many plot devices rely on miscommunication to propel the plot, and while there is some of that here, it's deliberate and tugs at the heart. Additionally, Hepworth's writing style is clean, crisp, and beautiful. I couldn't put this read down, and I'd devoured half of it before I could take a breath. This is one of those reads that will stick with you, and while I had a pretty good idea where the plot was headed early on, I loved watching the story unfold, the characters grow, and the ultimate fallout from their choices. Overall, The Good Sister is an un-put-downable, unsettling read with wonderful characters and heart. 10/10 this will be one to watch in 2021, and I can't wait to see more from Hepworth. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.

 

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