Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Will and Asheley are teenage siblings that have grown close because of their lackluster parents. Their dad left them they were children and hasn't seen them since. Their mother is an alcoholic who is constantly in and out of rehab. The day that both Will and Asheley experience success in their sport for the first time, they come home to find their mother completely plastered after going months without drinking. She is taken to a rehabilitation center, leaving her two children alone as she has so often before. When they decide to have a party in their mother's absence, Will goes out of control and commits a terrible act that would destroy their lives. The story that follows features the siblings leaving a trail of destruction in their wake as they seek to escape.

Brother/Sister is told through the alternating narratives of Will and Asheley. At first, the narrative of one completes the other in regards to plot because they aren't in the same place at the same time. As the story continues and they are drawn together by the horrible events that transpire, they experience the same things, but tell it from their own perspective. Of course, there are slight differences because they are telling the story from memories and everyone has their own version of what happened. Each chapter is fairly short and this, with the conversational writing style, makes reading the novel fluid and quick. The voices of the two narrators are very distinct, so even if I started reading again in the middle of a chapter, I could clearly tell whose chapter I was in.

Will, Asheley, and their relationship are the most compelling aspect of the novel. Will starts of as an antisocial, but sensitive guy that just seeks to prove himself. His feelings, as the novel progresses, get distorted and he becomes incredibly angry and jealous of absolutely everyone around his sister. This all starts when his mother attacks him in a drunken stupor. He views Asheley as a perfect angel while everyone is just trying to rape her or plotting to destroy her. From his perspective, his crazy thoughts seem perfectly logical and he doesn't see himself as overreacting or creepy at all. Asheley is the opposite of Will and seeks approval from her friends and her less than stellar boyfriend. As Will gets more and more overbearing, she retreats into herself and falls into a depression. She sees the good in people, but is wary to seek out help because of Will's erratic behavior. Their relationship obviously changes in Will's eyes, but Asheley struggles to keep it as it always was. These siblings couldn't be any more different and their relationship makes me morbidly curious as Will's world view becomes more and more distorted.

There is one small detail and one large one that dampened my enjoyment of Brother/Sister. The small detail is that Will and Asheley drink a lot. That in and of itself is fine, but victims of abuse by alcoholic parents tend to try to not emulate their abuser's behavior. The fact that they did it so nonchalantly shocked me. I think Asheley asked herself if this was how her mother started out, but she seemed to dismiss the thought after that. The large thing is the extremely abrupt twist ending. A little elaboration would have been really nice, but the ending as it is left me feeling kind of hollow.

Brother/Sister is a easy, fast read that grabs hold of you until the anticlimactic ending. With all it's flaws, it's still an enjoyable read that I would recommend to fans of edgy teen fiction.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

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