Two Sisters by Mary Hogan
Published: March4, 2014Pulisher: William MorrowPages: 384Received: for honest review via TLC Book ToursMary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.
One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .
The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.
But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.
Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.
This was a powerful book for me. It made me cry often, in both a happy and sad way. It made me think back to the feelings and thoughts of my mother's illness and the emotions that overwhelm when you finally understand that things are changing whether you are ready or not. The happy emotion comes from remembering the moments you'll cherish forever and this is what a novel like this can do - bring up all sorts of emotions and allow you to think about the good and the bad.
In this story, you follow Muriel through her life - from being a child who only wanted to be loved so much by her family yet felt so unloved her entire life, to watching Muriel change and grow after dealing with her sister's news that will change everything.
Muriel is completely unlike anyone in her family. She doesn't fit the mold she feels that her mother and sister, Pia, were made from or that her father and brother are cut from. She has always felt left out, yet she has accepted this and gone on with her life. She dislikes visits from her sister or mother, because they only make her feel less adequate about her life choices. The only thing anyone has ever relied on her for was keeping their dirty little secrets.
Then the one thing she didn't expect happened. Her sister appears, acts overly sisterly to her and then dumps the shock of a lifetime on her shoulders. It's her newest secret to bear. It's a devastating shock that sends Muriel reeling. One of those "if I don't acknowledge it, it can't be true" moments. It's a life altering moment that makes her realize how much she has actually wanted to have a close relationship with her sister, but never felt she could. Then, almost too late, she has a moment with her sister that will change her entire outlook on life. She can hold on to this moment and look back on it as one of the happiest sister moments of her life - but she can't help wonder why her family has been unable to care like normally families do - wasn't caring something that you just knew how to do? Until now, she has never felt that kind of emotion with her family.
This one moment makes her realize she doesn't need to keep secrets anymore and she needs to be free. That things cannot change unless she makes the change. The letting go of the secrets will finally set her free and allow her to move on. This one horrible moment in life has now unleashed a clarity for Muriel that will forever change her life for the better - all thanks to Pia.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -page 254
Through the characters of Pia and Lidia, I was able to explore the destructive power of secrets in a family. I was able to look at God and religion from a different perspective. Owen and Logan - the father and brother characters - taught me about the choices people make and the consequences they live with. And Muriel - the main character - showed me how resilience is the one trait that can trump all others. -page 3-4 of the P.S. section
Mary Hogan is the NAPPA Award-winning author of seven young-adult books. Two Sisters is her first novel for adults. She lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Lucy.