Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Good Sister

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister
Penguin Random House: 6/11/19
eBook review copy; 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9780525539391

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister is a highly recommended novel detailing the relationship between two sisters and a riveting courtroom drama.
Martha and Becky are sisters who have always had a close relationship. The novel opens after with Becky is about to stand trial for suffocating Martha's 8-week-old baby, Layla who died under her aunt Becky's care. Martha refuses to believe that Becky is guilty, but all the evidence seems to point to her. Becky was acting as a nanny for Martha. Layla was a difficult baby, who cried incessantly from what may have been acid reflux, and was unconsolable. When Martha had to leave town for two days and her husband Scott is at a conference, Becky is left in charge of Layla and Layla is found dead under her care.
The novel alternates chapters between the point-of-view of the two sisters and also follows the trial as witnesses give testimony. The result is that the reader is privy to hidden feelings of resentment on Becky's part, and Martha's hidden quest to prove that Becky is innocent and someone else was there and guilty. The perspective of many of the witnesses is also presented before they take the stand, with their testimony following, which clearly shows how everything can be twisted to mean something else.
McAllister does a skillful job developing the characters into real individuals, and the close relationship between the sisters is believable. At the same time, she keeps the tension rising as new personal revelations between the sisters is revealed and as each new witness takes the stand. It begs the question: Can you really know another person, even someone you think you know?  And how will the extended family handle a situation that is almost guaranteed to tear any family apart?

The writing is excellent and the plot is well-presented and well-executed. Even the most seemingly innocent event can be twisted to mean something else.  The courtroom scenes are believable and heartbreaking. Even if you have an idea of what happened (and I did right from the start) it won't diminish your enjoyment of this novel. This is a wonderful courtroom drama and will hold your attention from beginning to end.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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