My Beautiful Struggle + [then i met my sister]

Review: Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso

Then I Met My Sister by Christine Hurley Deriso
Publisher: Flux (April 8th, 2011)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 264 pages
Source: ARC tour
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Shannon has been the backdrop of my life since the moment I was born.

Summer Stetson lives inside a shrine to her dead sister. Eclipsed by Shannon's greatness, Summer feels like she's a constant disappointment to her controlling, Type A momzilla and her all-too-quiet dad. Her best friend Gibson believes Summer's C average has more to do with rebelliousness than smarts, but she knows she can never measure up; academically or otherwise. On her birthday, Summer receives a secret gift from her aunt; Shannon's diary. Suddenly, the one-dimensional vision of her sister becomes all too solid. Is this love-struck, mom-bashing badass the same Shannon everyone raves about? Determined to understand her troubled sister, Summer dives headfirst down a dark rabbit hole and unearths painful family secrets. Each revelation brings Summer closer to the mysterious and liberating truth about her family; and herself.
Review: Then I Met My Sister is a startling look at the connections sisters can have, even after one has passed away. Summer never actually met Shannon. She's always felt she was the sad replacement after Shannon died in a car accident. According to her mother, Shannon was perfect in every possible way. Summer sees her pictures in their home but has no true emotions to pair with it. She never knew her sister so should she be sad?

On Summer's birthday, her aunt gives her Shannon's diary. This is the key to opening up her life. Summer begins reading and soon begins a type of obsession with who her sister was. Turns out, she wasn't so perfect. She had issues with their mother, a boyfriend who wasn't so great for her, and a friend who only used her. Summer can't understand why their mother hid all of these facts. Slowly she begins to ask her, and her father, questions concerning Shannon's life but she rarely gets an in-depth response. Shannon's death seems to only bring forth angry emotions and pent-up fears.

She confides in her best friend Gibson whenever possible. He's super smart and a great friend to Summer. Although he doesn't understand her drive to find out what happened to her sister, he tries to be there for support. Summer does far more than simply read the story of her sister; she begins looking for the people she knew. Slowly she adds one piece of the puzzle at a time until she begins to see a clearer picture of her sister. But some puzzles can't be completed and true answers may be long gone.

The writing in this book brings the perfect blend of Summer and Shannon's personalities. The mystery is interesting and engaging as the story progresses. Gibson brings kindness and the stability Summer seems to need. Her relationship with her parents is strained but we get a good handle on their differing outlooks. Summer soon begins to shine on her own and without the constant worry of her disappointment. Her outlook on life, and her connection with her sister, seems to grow as she learns each new detail.

Then I Met My Sister is a wonderful story that clearly represents the complexity of a family suffering from loss. Sometimes the worst thing is to keep secrets and pretend perfection can fix any problem. Summer soon realizes that maybe who she pretended to be, wasn't who she really wanted to be.

Find Christine Hurley Deriso | Website

Purchase Then I Met My Sister
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository