Time changes things. That painful fact of life couldn’t be truer for the Sullivan sisters. Once, they used to be close, sharing secrets inside homemade blanket castles. Now, life in the Sullivan house means closed doors and secrets left untold. Fourteen-year-old Murphy, an aspiring magician, is shocked by the death of Siegfried, her pet turtle. Seventeen-year-old Claire is bound for better things than her Oregonian hometown—until she receives a crushing rejection from her dream college. And eighteen-year-old Eileen is nursing a growing addiction in the wake of life-altering news. Then, days before Christmas, a letter arrives, informing the sisters of a dead uncle and an inheritance they knew nothing about. The news forces them to band together in the face of a sinister family mystery…and, possibly, murder.
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Kathryn Ormsbee’s THE SULLIVAN SISTERS is an immersive mystery about family, secrets, and finding your way, especially when any plans you thought were set are disrupted. The sisters have rotating POV chapters, and their voices are distinct and rich with their individual interior lives. I was quickly hooked on each of their journeys, from Murphy’s desperate desire to be seen, Eileen’s reluctant admissions of her own truths, and Claire’s disillusion of her dreams and goals. The mystery around the house and their family past kept the plot moving and building in intensity, while the emotional layers under everything kept the hard punches coming.
What I love most about THE SULLIVAN SISTERS is the range of experiences and growth reflected in the sisters. They are all at such different points in their lives, but all are facing intersections they don’t recognize and feel alone in their struggles. This is an excellent example of how to make lack of communication, and even at some points, distrust of communication altogether, really powerful. All of their secrets are intertwined with self-doubt, fear, uncertainty, and sometimes shame, especially when dealing with years of relationship neglect and passivity.
THE SULLIVAN SISTERS has a little bit for everyone: murder mystery, family conflict, unexpected journeys, and the bonds of sisterhood. I highly recommend this poignant, painfully honest story that will make you believe in the power of growth and love.