I’ve said in the past, both here and elsewhere (Twitter and FB), that I mostly don’t buy books, being a major library fan and user (and yet, in our recent move, what did we have the most boxes of?? Books, of course!)
However, I DO buy books when I love them and am sure I’ll want to read them again. I just took advantage of Borders closing a huge store here in the Boston area to pick up a copy of one of my newest favorite author’s books, Tawni O’Dell‘s Sister Mine. And then I stopped by Harvard Book Store the next morning to purchase the newly released paperback of Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I’ve rhapsodized over this wonderful book previously, so I’ll let you go there to read what I think about that, and continue here with your next great read.
Saying Tawni O’Dell is my “newest favorite” isn’t quite right, as my first exposure to her was via her second book, Coal Run, a few years ago. I remember being blown away at the time by her luminescent prose. There were phrases that just jumped out at me and I had to read over and over, to try to absorb their poetry. When I was inspired to get Sister Mine out of the library again, it only took reading about 1/4 of the book before I knew I had to have a copy for my own.
Coal Run was preceded by Back Roads – both of which I would have purchased as well except that Borders didn’t have any copies.
Sister Mine is the first-person narrative of Shae-Lynn Penrose – a cabdriver in the small Pennsylvania coal town of Jolly Mount; former Capitol Police officer; single mother of a grown young son; daughter of her dead and very brutal coal-miner father; and older sister to the missing and presumed-dead-for-eighteen-years Shannon Penrose – who now turns out to be very much alive.
As the story develops, you learn more and more about Shae-Lynn; how she lives her life, and what that “how” is in response to, in her past. I became more and more drawn to her, feeling like I would love to know her in real life (almost like a social media friend!) The plot twists and turns and I rooted for Shae-Lynn to get the positive outcome she deserved. She learns things about her sister and about her own life that she would never have wished to know, but which bring her out of her self-imposed fantasies about the past into a life which can be better than she ever thought.
And where has Shannon been all these years? Shae-Lynn was convinced (on nearly no evidence at all) that their father had killed Shannon, and that was why no one had ever heard from her. The truth is more surprising and heart-wrenching even than that.
And, as with her other books, Ms. O’Dell’s prose shines. It’s engaging and memorable. Another book (all of her books, really) about which I say: Get it! Read it! You’ll enjoy it.