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Book Review: The Sometime Sister by Katherine Nichols


Grace’s family is complicated. Her relationship with Stella, her sister, is fractured due to a betrayal. Two weeks before Grace had been scheduled to marry Ben, she discovered Stella and Ben, in, well, a compromising position. It turns out that his philandering wasn’t the only thing Ben kept from Grace. He was also a low-level drug dealer who had a lot of eyes on him. When he flees to Ecuador, Stella goes along, and that was the last time Grace spoke to her sister. Grace is stalled out in her life, living within the confines of what feels safe, unwilling to even contemplate any risk that might lead to heartache. The minutia of detail Nichols provides at the beginning of the book illustrates how narrow Grace’s world has become. Her day-to-day life is filled with the mundane tasks of simple existence. Her simple, ordered world is blown apart when her mother calls to say that Stella didn’t get on the plane. She further explains that Stella was leaving Ben and coming home, but she never made it to the airport. Grace’s mother is convinced that something terrible has happened. Against her better judgment, Grace agrees to go and search for her. Before she can leave the States, the family gets confirmation that Stella is dead. Grace’s mission shifts from one of recovery to one of discovering those responsible and bringing them to justice.

During Grace’s time in Ecuador, she remembers how to be alive. She allows herself to dip her toe in the pool of love and intimacy and finds that the water might be just right. She learns more about her sister in death than she ever understood in life. She reconciles long-repressed memories and in the course of unraveling the chaos that surrounded Stella’s death, she finds her own balance. This is a story of growth and second chances. It is a story about justice with a side dose of vengeance. It is serious without much fluff. The surprise at the end was satisfying and brought a sense of closure. The characters were resonant and multi-dimensional. What humor I found was within the personalities developed and the way each individual handled their personal issues.

The narrator was Madeline Norton, who did a fine job of creating multiple voice tones to represent the characters and remained consistent throughout.

For more informaiton about Katherine Nichols' oher books, visit her website.

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