Saturday, October 22, 2016
My Sister Rosa
Che has a weird life. He and his family move frequently around the world to accommodate for his parents' jobs. His parents are hippies who raise their children with a certain amount of freedom and encourage them to express themselves. Unfortunately, they don't seem to realize that his sister Rosa is a psychopath with no empathy and no regard for people beyond how it would negatively effect her. He feels responsible for teaching how to act good and keeping her radius of destruction as small as possible. This new place with all of is opportunities might prove too tempting for Rosa no matter how vigilant Che is.
Che is trying to make the best of his situation. He truly loves his sister ever since he held her as a baby and wishes she could feel empathy and know right from wrong like everyone else. Normalcy isn't completely absent as he makes lots of new friends, keeps communicating with the old friends, and studies boxing. As he gets closer to adulthood, his parents laissez-faire style of parenting starts to get to him and he fights against them even harder. I feel sorry for him because he's basically forced to parent Rosa because his parents are too wrapped up in each other and their cause of the week to do it. Even though it's a horrible time to do it, he starts to rebel and leave Rosa to her own devices more often in order to have a normal teenage life. I understand him and applaud him for doing so.
This book has some wonderful things about it. The cast of characters is probably the most diverse I've ever read in culture, sexuality, gender, and described in atypical ways. When a character is described, their skin color is first on the list. Larbalestier focuses on some physical attributes, but ones that could belong to anyone. She focuses more on the personality and demeanor of the character rather than their physicality. I found it refreshing and progressive. The only character I thought was superfluous was Elon, a genderless person. While it's great to have this character, Elon is literally only there to introduce this type of person and has no impact on the plot whatsoever. The cast of characters is quite large and could have been cut a little to move the plot forward more. It definitely stagnated in the middle.
I had high expectation for My Sister Rosa and it let me down in some places. Rosa herself started out creepy with her discussing how people are valuable to her and how she doesn't understand how to be good. She spends a lot of time going around Che's rules without breaking them (mostly) and views it as a game. Her angelic features and manipulative ways are chilling in a child that very few people realize can be quite dangerous. Rosa was suspiciously absent through much of the novel despite the title. In the latter half of the novel, her actions didn't even really make sense anymore and she came off as a caricature of a sociopathic child. Her character also stagnated and didn't change much throughout the novel. I would have wanted to see more from her perspective.
My Sister Rosa is an interesting novel that drew me in from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the second act is a bit bloated and the plot didn't move forward until the explosive end. The ending throws in an interesting twist I never saw coming. I would read another novel if this became a series, but my expectations wouldn't be as high. Overall, it's a flawed novel with striking characters and a killer plot.
My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins