My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was so hyped that I was a tad reluctant to pick it up. But it just sounded so interesting! Plus – Aussie YA is generally so wonderful. Definitely no exception, this is a crazy gripping and addictive novel.
My Sister Rosa tells the story of Che, as he attempts to control his 10 year-old sister, and suspected psychopath Rosa when his parents move them all (again) to New York City. As he settles in, Rosa gets up to her usual tricks, but things seem to be getting worse – Che is losing control. And after what happened in Thailand who knows what she could do next?
The best thing about this book (for me at least) was the characters. Che especially, seemed like such a relatable and real world teenage boy, struggling with all the regular things and dealing with them in a way that, although often not the best, was always so believable and genuine. It was as though Larbalestier had run each scenario past an actual 17 year old and wrote his reaction. Another massive positive about the characters was the sheer diversity of them all. Aside from Che, the vast majority of the cast were female and a lot were of non-white backgrounds. There is such a mix of racial, gender, sexual and religious identities in this novel that it would have been easy to get bogged down in the writing of them all. However, Larbalestier handled it wonderfully and she didn’t once let any character’s membership of a group or minority be their sole defining feature. Each one was so well rounded and distinct that, despite their number, each held their own and had distinct personalities.
The plotting of the novel was perhaps a little slow to start with, just enough to lull you into a false sense of security. Just enough for you to think that Che is overreacting. And then, bam! Plot twist after twist, but all still a credible turn of events. And it left me questioning.
Larbalestier again worked her “unreliable narrator” muscles although more successfully I believe. I read her novel, Liar in 2010, and came away feeling odd. It was a strange read which left me questioning everything, there could be no faith put in the narrator, and it turned me off her work for a while. Perhaps I was just not ready for a novel such as that, and maybe if I picked it up again now, I might find much more enjoyment in the narrative. Not sure if I’m quite ready for that yet, but I won’t shy away from reading Larbalestier’s other novels now.
** I realise this is way late, I do apologise, but I was on my trip! I shall make it up to you by leaving two July reviews of great books! **