Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: A Gift for My Sister by Ann Pearlman

A Gift for My SisterA Gift for My Sister by Ann Pearlman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Before I begin my review, I would like to thank Inga Kupp-Silberg for generously giving me a copy of this book for review and Pavarti Tyler for informing me of the opportunity.

Here is my very abbreviated synopsis of the book. A Gift for My Sister is a story told from the dual perspectives of two sisters about their struggles with love and life. At first, the two are distant, disconnected, and consider each other almost as strangers -- being only half-sisters by birth. After tragedy strikes, a roadtrip begins the journey of self-realization, acceptance, and healing. By the end of the road to recovery, the sisters are best friends.

Now, A Gift for My Sister does not fall into my typical, go-to genre for pleasure reading, so my opinion of the story may skewed by that fact. That said, I did still find it more enjoyable than some of the YA I've read in the past year. The story had some touching moments, especially when the main tragedy struck the family. I found the worries and concerns of the sisters to be feasible and believable, something essential in this kind of story. The thing that kept me reading to the end was to find out Tara's decision and what the fallout of her choice would be.

My biggest issue with this story (grammatical things and typos aside) was the dialog, both external and internal. I had a hard time, like, believing the characters spoke that way and oftentimes had a difficult time following their conversations. Occasionally, the way the two sisters spoke - and even some of the secondary dudes (characters) - ended up sounding alike. Also, there were moments when the prose shifted from the MC narrating the story for me to her talking directly to me (the reader). I found those moments unnecessary and disconcerting, often kicking me out of the story.

A few, other minor issues, included:

-the chapters: I would have had just one chapter 1 and had a sub header for the parts told by Sky and Tara. Sometimes, I would forget who was telling the story or if I'd read the other character's perspective for the same chapter yet. It was a little confusing.
-the flashbacks/back stories: There were several that I felt were not really needed for the plot to progress. They didn't really help deepen the main characters, just gave them more to think about. I will say that most of the flashbacks were done very well, so they flowed with the story and did give some insight for the reader into that character's motivations.
-the in-depth mention of daily activities/food: I almost didn't read past the first few chapters. The information of the little girl's potty training experiences and saving her successes for her daddy to see...a bit too TMI for me. The details of the sisters' everyday, mundane activities was somewhat tiresome, as well. I understood by the end of the book why the food and it's preparation were so detailed, but that information could have been left out and I would still know just as much about the characters.
-the last chapter: If recipes are going to be given, they should be written like you'd find in a recipe book. If you want to add a story/explain the meaning behind each recipe, that’s fine, but do it either before the ingredients list and directions or after. Don't mix it all up together. And I really like measurements with my recipes, too.

And while those things took up a lot of space in this review, they really didn't ruin the story for me. A Gift for My Sister is a story I would recommend to readers who enjoy realistic fiction, chick-lit, family drama, or a character-driven story.

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