Ten years earlier, Nicole Hunter walked away from life in Seattle. Leaving Seattle behind meant leaving her abusive father, weak mother and mentally disabled sister, Jenny, too. She had little regret about walking away from any of them until the day she receives a call that her sister is pregnant. Suddenly Nicole's picture perfect world is turned upside down when she makes the decision to return home to Seattle to care for Jenny.
Jenny and Nicole have always shared a special relationship. Though Jenny is not able to verbalize her needs, she and Nicole have such a connection that Nicole can innately sense what Jenny is saying. And in caring for Jenny, Nicole begins to learn more about herself. I would venture to say that their bond is closer than that of sisters with the ability to speak.
One of the interesting dynamics of the book is watching Nicole discover that her mother is not the weak woman she thought her to be for so many years. As Jenny's primary caretaker, Nicole steps into the same role her mother filled and begins to feel some compassion for the woman that seems so distant and cold. Though I think she's still troubled by the fact that her mother allowed her father to institutionalize Jenny as a condition of him staying in the home. I wondered, myself, why she didn't bring Jenny home after her husband left anyway.
My favorite character was Nova, Nicole's best friend from childhood. She's a tell it like it is, shoot straight from the hip kind of woman. While Nicole initially wants to sugar coat how poorly things are going as she first assumes care taking of Jenny, Nova sees right through her and offers the support that Nicole can't seem to get from her mother.
"There's a difference between being there physically and being there emotionally, don't you think? Being physically in the house with you two hasn't meant shit so far."
Amy Hatvany is easily one of my favorite authors these days. Had this been a Jodi Picoult novel, a fourth of the book would have been dedicated to a mini medical dictionary about being mentally disabled. For that reason, I've moved away from Picoult novels as of late. Hatvany simply presents the stories and the characters and lets the reader decide whether or not they want to delve deeper into whatever issue she's presented. I look forward to more from her.
Published: July 2012
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.
Theme: Always Sisters by CeCe Winans