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The Second Sister    by Claire Kendal order for
Second Sister
by Claire Kendal
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Tense. Compelling. Suspenseful. Absorbing. Hard to put down. I'm talking about The Second Sister by Claire Kendal. Her debut work, The Book of You, was well received and hailed by the New York Times as riveting.

The same can be said for The Second Sister. The second sister in the family is put to a real test, putting the love and loyalty Ella feels toward her older sister Miranda on paper, keeping the bond she feels for her sibling alive even though Miranda disappeared over ten years ago. She left not only Ella behind but her small son Luke who is now ten years-old.

Ella writes in a journal each day to let Miranda know what has happened while she was gone. She puts aside her anger at her sister for disappearing and not getting in touch with her family for all this time. Their parents, as well as Luke and Ella, never give up hope that Miranda will someday walk through the front door of the family home to hug them all.

Ella doesn't think of the ten year span as much as about wanting to see her sister again, sharing Luke with his mother, being a family once more. The reader is a part of the story as Ella writes in her journal her thoughts for each and every day. She writes as though penning a letter to Miranda a letter that her sister won't read unless she comes home.

The bond between the sisters keeps Ella living in the hope that Miranda will indeed return and explain her absence. Ella can't even consider not writing each day to Miranda. She can't accept the thought that she might never see her sister again. They Miranda and Ella had always been close even though there were years between them. They had their differences but always worked them out. Ella can't give up on Miranda but as time creeps by, it is harder for her to keep writing each day.

The depth of her love for her sister cries out to the reader. Where could the woman be? And why hasn't she at least contacted her family to let them know where she is and how she is? The plot may seem ordinary but it is not. The reader suffers with Ella. Wonders at the bond between the two that keeps Ella writing.

My words cannot capture the wonder that arises at the determination that Ella holds that one day Miranda will return. She will be mad at her but will welcome her back with all the love she holds in her heart for her big sister.

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