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Book Review: The Silent Sister

Book Review:  The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

I picked up The Silent Sister after it popped up as a recommendation from Amazon.  The reviews were great: 828 reviews and an average of 4.3 stars.  It must be good.  This mystery follows Riley MacPherson, who after the passing of her father, finds evidence that the older sister who committed suicide decades ago is actually alive and living under a new identity.  While that sounds like it may be a spoiler, believe me, it is not.

It’s easy to see why this book had such great reviews on Amazon:  It’s easy to read and wastes no time pulling you in.  I felt hooked by the end of the first chapter.  But then again, that became the problem.

The characters were easy to identify with.  The emotions were realistic.  The story was compelling.  It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down.  I stayed up half the night to finish it (I really wish I was a faster reader).

The problem with putting things up on a pedestal is that they have a long way to fall.  And fall it did.  Where the story was so beautifully pieced together and built up, it’s almost as if the author got to a point and said “that’s far enough.  Let’s end it there.”

There is no happy ending.  In fact, the ending was a huge letdown.  For a few hundred pages, Riley was built up as a sensitive character who worried about people and felt empathy.  But the Riley at the end of the book is a huge departure from that.  And there’s no payoff for most of the characters: The reader becomes emotionally invested and then it becomes “Ah well, stuff happens.  They’ll deal”.  Some characters aren’t even mentioned at all in the final chapters, leaving the reader not knowing at all what happened.

I spent the next day sleep deprived and bitter.  It’s one thing to stay up all night, reading a great book with a great payout at the end.  But to stay up and have nothing but disappointment after so much fantastic build up, it’s just wrong!

In summary, I’ll say this:  The writing was good.  The story was intriguing.  I want to read more from this author.  Because of the hugely disappointing ending, I can’t highly recommend this book.  But if you’re looking to for a mostly good story to fill your day and you’re not going to get invested, it’s not terrible.

The 90% of the book that was phenomenal is enough for me to give this author another shot.  I definitely want to read more from her and hope this ending was just a one off.

What have you read lately?


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