Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review - Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb

Henry's Sisters by Cathy Lamb

As you can guessed from the book title, this book is about Henry and his 3 sisters - and how they dealt with a family crisis when something happened to mum. I thought the book started out okay... then 5 days later and about half way through, I just got bored. Normally I would have stopped, but since this was for a book club, I thought I'd try a little harder, so I skimmed the rest to see what happened instead (yes I cheated!) Well, not much happened until maybe the last couple of chapters, so I didn't feel like I missed much. The book could have been a lot shorter (funny, both goodreads and amazon said it is 352 pages? But I made a note that it was 430 pages?! Maybe it had been shortened since?!?!)  Regardless of the actual number of pages, it still felt too long.

But the main reason I didn't like it was because of the characters - it seemed like EVERYBODY was a stereotype. EVERYBODY had to have an extreme flaw. Now, I get that we are not perfect and we all have flaws, but what is the likelihood that everyone in the family had a different behavioral disorder from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV)? It just seemed quite unrealistic. Henry just happened to be the glue that brought everyone together because he... well I am not going to spoil it for you if you decide to read it. Just know that everything was so contrived, and everything was tied in a nice little bow at the end of the story as someone else from the book club put it. Though most of the people at the book club did liked it (except me and my friends, who are younger than the rest of the group).

This book reminded me a bit of The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (see my review here) minus the Shakespeare reference. This book was published prior to the Weird Sisters though.

I did find a few quotes I liked (I do have 2 younger sisters after all):

"And we were never locked in closets. We chose to go there all on our own. To hide." (p14)

To me, the wind has always seemed like a person, with all the mood swings and rampaging, out-of-control emotions that we have. Sometimes it's angry and whips around corners, sometimes it ruffles the river as it hurries toward the ocean, sometimes it puffs on by, gentle, caressing. (p25)

The problem I see with fights between sisters is that the fights can degenerate to scorching meanness so quick, the words cutting right to the marrow, because sisters know how to hurt each other with pinpoint accuracy. They have history and hurts and slights and jealousies and resentment and they don't know how to rein it in, filter, or how not to be brutally honest with one another. (p95) 

1 / 5 .

Note - The book was borrowed from the library.

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  1. Thanks for telling me about your review. I thought the flaws were because they were all so messed up from their childhood.

    I think I had read a series of harder reads and a few not so great book club reads prior to this - I think I was so thrilled I could actually engage in the book. I had never read Cathy Lamb before but found her funny and would like to read her again.

  2. @Sheila - I got that they were all messed up from their childhood, but it just seemed way too extreme to me that it didn't seem realistic (although, sometimes true life is stranger than fiction.) But it's great to hear other's perspective on this book, to see why you like it! I haven't read this author before either, and I don't know if I would. I found that I don't usually like this genre...