My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter

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My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Katie Pullen
Reviewed by Katie Pullen
Summary: When Lacey discovers she has a long lost identical twin sister named Monica, both her and her sister's lives are turned upside down as they try to put the pieces of their lost selves back together. Mary Carter avoids all the clichés of lost siblings giving us a unique and engrossing read with an unexpected twist.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Little Black Dress
ISBN: 978-0755348381

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Twenty-eight year old Lacey Gears is a fiercely independent deaf artist living in Philadelphia with her boyfriend Alan and her puggle Rookie. Lacey is proud to be deaf and has no desire to become hearing. When she finds a note in her mailbox telling her she has an identical twin called Monica, Lacey dismisses it as a joke but curiosity gets the better of her when she sees a picture of Monica, and she soon finds herself confronting Margaret, her orphanage house mother who confirms Monica’s existence and their separation twenty-five years ago.

Meanwhile, Monica Bowman is living a life completely unaware of Lacey, as a successful author and motivational speaker in Boston. Like Lacey she has a steady boyfriend Joe and a puggle called Snookie. Unlike Lacey, Monica can hear and has grown up to a life of privilege with her parents Katherine and Richard. When her aunt Grace tells Monica she has a sister, Monica is left thinking her sister is dead but soon discovers otherwise.

As the two sisters gradually enter each others lives the fireworks fly and each woman seems set on a course of self-destruction, as they try to find answers to who they are, where they came from, why they were separated and where they go from here.

I really wasn’t sure a book on long lost identical twins would be anything but full of clichés so it was both refreshing and a relief to find this wasn't the case. Carter has taken a story we have all come across before and given it a new twist as she slowly unfolds the events surrounding Lacey and Monica’s separation, giving little away, and maintaining the suspense eloquently.

Lacey and Monica are characters who at first appear very different, but as we get to know them we find they have much more in common than their good looks and puggle dogs. The story is told from both perspectives and as we get to know Lacey first she is perhaps the stronger of the two sisters. It was very easy to connect with Lacey as her whole life and identity becomes a question mark. Her childhood growing up in an orphanage is still very much in her present as she carries a great deal of hurt, anger and confusion with her, making her quite a rebel. Monica on the other hand, seems to have quite an easy, secure life, surrounded by a loving and wealthy family, with a successful career and engagement to a steady man. She has no idea about Lacey but it is clear she is missing some part of herself as she carries with her a bottle of sleeping pills and feels her career success is not of her own making.

The most interesting part of this book for me is Lacey’s deafness. I’ve not come across any novels before that deal with this issue and its culture and I was all the more impressed that such an issue is dealt with in a light-hearted read. Carter deals incredibly sensitively with Lacey’s deafness, demonstrating exactly how frustrating she finds it being deaf in a world full of hearing people who have no understanding of her condition or how to treat her. Lacey uses both her voice and sign language to communicate, and often uses an interpreter, which made me think a little more about the dialogue I was reading as it was quite different in places especially when Lacey repeats her signings out of sheer frustration. There are also many amusing passages, which give real insight into how Lacey feels when she is misunderstood, ignored or treated as a child in social settings. Lacey also has a brilliant sense of humour and uses her deafness to embarrass people who treat her differently and as a way of playing pranks on her friends.

As well as the theme of deafness there are many others you would expect from a novel about two sisters finding each other and overall I was really impressed by Mary Carter’s writing and her ability to keep me guessing in what is a complex, touching, warm, funny, quirky and highly readable book. This is one author I will definitely be reading more from.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading Suggestion: If this book appeals to you, you may also enjoy The Kinsella Sisters by Kate Thompson or The Secret Lives of Sisters by Linda Kelsey.

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