Review Blog

Nov 23 2011

Brother/Sister by Sean Olin

cover image

Penguin, 2011. ISBN 9780141338453.
(Age: 15+) Will and Asheley are siblings with a strangely intense relationship. Their father abandoned the family many years earlier and their mother is a chronic alcoholic who cannot be depended upon. As the eldest, Will feels responsible for keeping his sister safe, a task made harder when she begins to socialise with the trendy kids at school. Conversely, Asheley would like to entice her awkward, nerdy brother out of his solitary, reclusive existence. Their conflicting goals collide in a disastrous, unforeseen way resulting in them both trying to explain to the police their connection to a dead body.
This is a dark, psychological thriller with sinister undertones. The story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Will and Asheley leaving the reader struggling to gain a foothold on the truth. Interactions that are seemingly normal and reassuring are interspersed with disturbing episodes hinting at their dysfunctional dynamic. There is a surprising twist at the end which compels the reader to speculate on the integrity of both narrators.
Brother/Sister is a cleverly written and sophisticated story. The veiled allusion to incest may be off putting for some but others will find this a gripping, page turner.
Tina Cain

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