I’ve read a few twisty books lately and The Half Sister by Sandie Jones is yet another. It’s probably a little (well, very) deceiving as several times I thought I knew what was happening. In fact, I often felt a sense of frustration as it felt far too obvious and predictable.
But of course I was wrong on those occasions and Jones takes readers in another direction entirely.
The Half Sister
by Sandie Jones
Published by Pan Macmillan AU
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
Kate and Lauren gather for their weekly Sunday family lunch, a knock on the door changes everything.
The new arrival, Jess, claims to be their half-sister, but that would mean the unthinkable . . . That she’s the secret daughter of their beloved, recently deceased father Harry. Their mother Rose is devastated and Kate and Lauren refuse to believe Jess’s lies.
But as the fall-out starts it’s clear that each is hiding secrets and that perhaps this family isn’t as perfect as they appear.
In some ways there are almost too many misdirections in here… particularly in the early stages. Our characters are keeping secrets and though Jones makes that obvious, she doesn’t tell us what most of them are for a long time. It means we have to guess of course. And I was wrong on a number of occasions, though (ultimately) many of us will be correct in our suspicions. We’re wrong before we’re right… if that makes sense.
Both Kate and Lauren are our narrators. The blurb on the backcover of my version of the book talks about them ‘always being there for each other’ but they’re actually not that close. They’re very different, judge each other harshly, have a lot of misperceptions. However they’re both (individually) really likeable.
Jess arrives on the scene and it seems her presence isn’t a surprise to everyone. The relationship between the sisters, their husbands and their mother—already at a fragile stage—ruptures. And it’s because of secrets, untruths and half-truths.
Jones offers us a few hints and has us questioning who we believe and who we can trust. It’s clever because the two sisters never really sit down to discuss everything honestly, so much goes unsaid.
There’s obviously a strong underpinning theme around families and relationships. Of secrets and lies. But there’s also a reminder that we may judge people we know and love incorrectly. That we never really know what’s happening in someone else’s life. That people show us what they think we want to see or what they want us to see. And whether it’s our fault or their fault (that) we don’t look further is to be debated I guess.
This would be good fodder for bookclubs given the complex family relationships between parents and children, siblings and partners. There are a number of ethical questions up for debate as well.
The Half Sister by Sandie Jones was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.