the silent sister book coverReviewed by Colleen Turner

When Riley MacPherson returns to her home town of New Bern, North Carolina after her father’s death she assumes it will only take a week or two to put her father’s affairs in order and sell her childhood home. However, as she meets with her father’s attorney for the reading of the will and begins the painful process of emptying his house, she discovers evidence and information that contradicts everything she believed about her family. At the center of the mysteries is the fact that her older sister, Lisa, whom Riley had always been told committed suicide when Riley was very young, might in fact be alive and living under a new identity. But this discovery brings up more questions than answers and as Riley sets out to unravel the mysteries surrounding her family she discovers the truth is something she could never have imagined.

Diane Chamberlain has become an author I search for whenever I go looking for an enjoyable book to read, one with complex characters and storylines unraveling to expose the mysteries hiding around every corner. The Silent Sister lives up to what I now expect from her excellent storytelling. I could not help but feel sorry for Riley as she continued to unravel the lies her life had been built on and protective of her as she had to deal with those around her using their knowledge of her family’s history for their own selfish reasons. Then there was her distant and angry brother, Danny, scarred from his own dealings with their family and his time serving in Iraq. For much of the novel it is hard to decide who is being honest with Riley and whom she can trust but once all the pieces fall into place I felt satisfied that Riley had learned the truth and would be able to move on with her life as it now stood.

Most of the novel is from Riley’s point of view but scattered throughout the middle is Lisa’s story, giving the reader a better understanding and justification for the events that took place. While I didn’t end up agreeing with all of Lisa’s actions by the last page I could understand her motives as well as the motives of her parents, giving a nice rounded feeling to the narrative. None of these characters are perfect and that is exactly what made them feel so real and relatable.

My only real issue with the story was the sporadic references to Riley’s recent breakup with her married boyfriend. I didn’t feel this had a place in the story and, while it doesn’t detract from it, it also doesn’t add any real depth or development to her character or her motivations. It just felt superfluous.

Diane Chamberlain is a prolific and much loved author and anyone who already enjoys her books will no doubt love this one as well. For those who haven’t discovered her yet this is a wonderful book to start with. Just be prepared to want to read all her other novels once you start!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Colleen lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, son, their dog Oliver and their fish Finn. When not working or taking care of her family she has her nose stuck in a book (and, let’s face it, often when she is working or taking care of her family as well). Nothing excites her more than discovering a new author to obsess over or a hidden jewel of a book to worship.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.