20 September 2013

Review: The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

What they say: Two sisters, one life-changing journey…

There are some currents in the relationship between sisters that run so dark and so deep, it’s better for the people swimming on the surface never to know what’s beneath . . .

Katie’s carefully structured world is shattered by the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali – and the police claim it was suicide.

With only the entries of Mia’s travel journal as her guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life, and – page by page, country by country – begins to uncover the mystery surrounding her death.

What she discovers changes everything. But will her search for the truth push their sisterly bond – and Katie – to breaking point?

The Sea Sisters is a compelling story of the enduring connection between sisters.
I received a copy of The Sea Sisters from Harper Collins as part of the Goodreads First-reads scheme.
What I say: I had no idea how much I was going to be pulled into Katie and Mia's story, but I am so glad I had the chance to read Lucy Clarke's contemporary novel. It's a wonderful story analysing the lives of the sisters, by looking at the secrets pulling them apart and also at what ties them together.
When Katie answers her door in the middle of the night she has no idea of the devastation awaiting her. Katie's younger sister Mia was travelling the world with her best friend Finn, but has been found dead in Bali. The local police and coroner rule Mia's death a suicide, which is both shocking and unbelievable to Katie. Katie leaves her FiancĂ© Ed at home, and sets out to recreate Mia's trip to discover the truth (with the aid of Mia's travel journal).
The book switches between the sisters. Most of Katie's sections are in the present and Mia's in the past, leading up to her death. The girls have grown-up without a father and recently suffered the death of their mother. Mia has never been particularly happy in London, but her rash decision to run off travelling with Finn is particularly shocking to Katie. We later learn the reason for this sudden departure (which I admit I had worked out several pages into Mia's story, yet really hoped I was wrong).
Katie is the older and outwardly more organised sister. Mia is more of a free spirit and doesn't like to be tied down. I saw Mia as a sort of tornado, beautiful yet destructive. The stand out thing for me when reading The Sea Sisters was the complicated, yet troubling relationship between Katie and Mia. Through reading Mia's journal both the reader and Katie learn how troubled her younger sister was and how jealous they both were of each other.
Katie sacrifices a lot for Mia, and as I got further into the story I realised just how much she had given up for her. I have to say some of Mia's actions annoyed me immensely. I enjoyed discovering more about Finn and Ed, although Ed was something of a non-starter for me from the off. The Noah storyline was really sad and I found myself feeling sympathy for Mia when I read these scenes.
The ending was sad, yet upbeat. When you  already know the fate of one of the character's it's often difficult to fully invest in them, but in The Sea Sisters I was genuinely engrossed and wanted to know what had happened to Mia and whether Katie could ever move on and make peace with her discoveries.
A poignant story which I am sure will stay with me for a long time.
4.5 Stars in my Sky!

Note: The book was published in America as Swimming at Night, but here in the UK it goes by The Sea Sisters.

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