Book Review — The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

Book Review The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

There’s a difference, sometimes, between a “good book” and “a book I really enjoyed and couldn’t put down.” That’s how I felt about Diane Chamberlain’s The Silent Sister.

It’s the story of Riley, a woman whose father has recently died, and she slowly begins to discover that her older sister, Lisa, who supposedly killed herself when Riley was only two, is really still alive.

I read it in three days last weekend, which is very fast for me, I’m sorry to say. I found it very compelling and I really wanted to know how it turned out.

Well, it turns out that I must be a moron, because a ton of the reviews on Goodreads said the book was “predictable” and that people figured out the whole thing less than a third into it. Oh well. I never was good at that kind of stuff.

Even as I was enjoying it, though, I was aware of some very obvious flaws. Other reviewers called Riley “whiney,” which was funny, because I just thought of it as bad writing. How many times did I have to hear Riley say that she wished she and her brother could be close like they used to be, that she wished she could connect with him? It was we were dense or something and the writer felt like she had to spell out things over and over.

Similarly, there was a creepy RV park couple who got something in Riley’s father’s will. Riley says to herself — and others — over and over about how Vermiece, the wife, was so kind, so caring, she knew she could trust her, she felt safe around her. I thought, geez, what a way to telegraph that we’re going to eventually find out that Vermiece is a “bad guy.”

And the worst part was the ending. First of all (MAJOR SPOILER), it was hard not to be aggravated about the part that a teacher who was a pedophile was never suspected and it was never revealed to the public what he really was. I would like to think that if a fourteen or fifteen year old with no steady boyfriend came home from a school trip pregnant “from some guy she met,” the family would, uh, check into what the hell actually went on.

But it was such a ridiculously fairy-tale ending. I don’t expect everyone to be miserable and dead, but especially considering the circumstances, it’s impossible to believe that the “new family” just all lived happily ever after. Wasn’t Lisa/Jade still in major danger of being reported by either the brother or the creepy RV couple … or, for that matter, the teacher’s wife, who had literally spent her life trying to find her? Why was it all of a sudden not a problem any more?

So. It’s one of those books that yes, I really enjoyed it, yes, it was a total page turner, but I’m sort of embarrassed that I liked it.

It’s okay, though. Steve Martin’s The Jerk wasn’t exactly an Oscar-winning movie, but I liked that too.

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