Friday, April 4, 2014

Book Review: Two Sisters

Book Review: Two Sisters by Mary HoganTwo Sisters by Mary Hogan

Review copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters - opposites in every way - plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired and round, she worships her beautiful blonde sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets - and she knows plenty, outsiders always do - they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell - a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

From the synopsis, I assumed that the story would focus on the relationship between Muriel and Pia, the two sisters. Well, there are two sisters in the story, but I'm still puzzled over what the focus of this book was supposed to be as it wasn't about their relationship. It was a bit all over the place, as though the author couldn't make up her mind about what type of story she wanted to tell.

We start off with two narrators alternating chapters, but that soon peters out. Every now and again a different narrator would pop up, but the main voice is Muriel's. There are occasional flashbacks that I didn't realize were flashbacks until later, which made things a little confusing. Maybe making the storyline messy, the way that life is messy, was the author's intention? I'm still not sure.

Unfortunately, I didn't find any of the characters very likable. Muriel seems to have no purpose or direction to her life, but I kept forgetting that she was in her early twenties because she acted so much older. I got the impression that she blamed her family for her lackluster life, which is one of my pet peeves. I don't care what your upbringing was like, but once you're an adult it's up to you to turn your life around and take charge!

Mother Lidia is an unlikable, self-centered woman, married to Owen, an aloof, distant man. Sister Pia is an unrelatable golden girl who seems to have always had it all. We don't really get to know brother Logan, as he left home when Muriel was still a child.

Despite not liking any of the characters and what I found to be a chaotic storyline, I still kept reading as I wanted to see what would happen next. I found myself wishing that a strong editor had tightened things up, but the story still seemed to work. I'm curious to see what other readers thought of this one!


  1. I'm sorry this wasn't quite what you thought it would be. Definitely seems like a mess storyline.

    1. I'm hoping that she'll have a firmer hand guiding her next book, as she's a talented writer!