In “The Half Sister,” Sandie Jones writes a novel that demonstrates how what we perceive as perfect families are sometimes anything but that. When a young woman named Jess shows up at the family’s front door claiming to be the daughter of their late father, Lauren and Kate are stunned, especially Kate because she had an extremely close relationship with her father and couldn’t believe that he’d ever do anything to hurt their family.
Jones cleverly puts the story together so that the many, many unraveled threads we learn about each sister and their mother slowly begin to come together as we discover more and more about their childhood, their childhood memories, and secrets that most of the women have kept.
And throughout it all, we wonder: Who is Jess, really?
Lauren believes that she’s their half sister. Kate, a journalist, is very skeptical and decides to research Jess’s background. In the meantime, Lauren reconnects with someone from her youth and a huge secret is inadvertently revealed.
The story is told in alternating third person narratives from the points of view of Kate and Lauren. We come to find out that Lauren has always envied Kate because of her exciting career and her carefree life. She doesn’t know that Kate envies Lauren for her three lovely children, children that Kate and her husband can almost surely never have. And by learning about their thoughts and their feelings, we can clearly see how lines of communication have been crossed for perhaps all their lives. And instead of being open and honest with each other, and helping each other, their insecurities and secrets have driven them apart. So when Jess appears, they don’t come together. As a matter of fact, the event seems to drive them even further apart.
But will the revelations that each sister shares, and the secrets that are uncovered, serve to bring them closer together or to totally separate them? And is Jess really their half-sister or someone who has decided to destroy their family for her own devious reasons?
“The Half Sister” is a perfect summer read. It’s engaging and has enough mystery to keep readers up late wanting to find out how it all ends — or really, how much of it actually happened.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Minotaur, for review purposes.