Sister Of Mine by Laurie Petrou No Exit Press June 20th 2019
The Grayson sisters are trouble. Everyone in their small town knows it. But no-one can know of the secret that binds them together. Hattie is the light. Penny is the darkness.
Together, they have balance. But one night the balance is toppled. A match is struck. A fire is started. A cruel husband is killed. The potential for a new life flickers in the fire’s embers, but resentment, guilt, and jealousy suffocate like smoke.
Their lives have been engulfed in flames – will they ever be able to put them out?
Family binds us together, an undeniable bond that will, one hopes never break. What if that bond came with added extras, with secrets that cannot be told, that could spell danger?
Laurie Petrou brilliantly explored those themes as she told the story of Penny and Hattie.
Penny, the elder, the strong one, the one who felt her job in life was to look after younger sister, Hattie yet always felt that unmistakable need to leave, to make her own life far away.
Hattie, vulnerable, who hid a rebellious streak, could be manipulative in pursuit of what she wanted and at times I couldn’t quite decide if she was victim or villain.
Told in Penny’s voice you would have thought we would only get one side of the story, of her struggle to build her own life. In many ways it was but Petrou also gave Penny introspection, the ability to see both sides, that made her life one of inner turmoil. The happy phases seemed short lived before the invisible string pulled her back to her sister. I loved the complex emotions Petrou portrayed, the love hate relationship, the jealousy but most of all the secrets.
The secrets were never quite what they seemed as Petrou kept you guessing, small chucks interlaced in the narrative that only partly informed. Petrou was great at building the tension, the emotions and events like a pressure cooker just waiting to explode. When the explosion happened you were left wondering who would survive, would the bond between Hattie and Penny still exist or be irrevocably broken.
You couldn’t get away from the small town mentality that existed where they lived, their lives a goldfish bowl, everyone with their own opinion. It added to the taut atmosphere, the sense of anticipation, the frustration felt by Penny as she fought to maintain control of her life and those around her. I felt sorry for her, saw her as a victim of circumstance and wished it all could have been different.
I admired Petrou’s skill in making me feel this way, at her ability to make me care about the characters she had created.
It was very definitely a novel driven by the characters within, the story Petrou’s way of examining their emotions, their actions and how they dealt with the consequences.
It was a novel I admired hugely and I look forward to reading more.
I would like to thank No Exit Press for a copy of Sister Of Mine to read and review and to Anne Cater Of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
LAURIE PETROU has a PhD in Communication and Culture, and is an Associate
Professor at Ryerson’s RTA School of Media in Toronto, where she is also the Director
of the Masters of Media Production program. She has given several TEDx talks on
subjects including gender and rejection. Laurie was the inaugural winner of the Half
the World Global Literati Award in 2016, a prize that honours unpublished work
featuring female protagonists, for her novel Sister of Mine. She now lives in a small
town in Ontario wine country with her husband, a wine maker, and their two sons.