Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter

My Sister's Voice by Mary Carter
352 pages
Published June 2010 by Kensington Publishing
Source: the publisher and Pump Up Your Book Promotions

Twenty-eight year old Lacey Gears is finally exactly where she wants to be--she has a terrific boyfriend, a fulfilling artistic career and a large group of friends in the Deaf community. Then one day she finds a letter in her mail that reads:

"You have a twin sister. Her name is Monica."

The letter directs Lacey to a poster on the window of a bookstore. Lacey isn't sure what to think--she wavers between wondering if someone is playing a joke on her and wondering if this might actually be real. Lacey grew up in a foster home, never knowing anything about her biological roots but her first reaction upon seeing her likeness on the poster is that someone has stolen her image from the computer. Determined to get to the truth, Lacey begins plotting ways to ambush the phony in a very public way.

Monica Bowman is on tour with her self-help book, doing weekend workshops when she is approached to do an interview. Unbeknownst to Monica, the "journalist" is actually Mike, the artist that Lacey share space with who's been talked into trying to get information on Monica. Mike is sure the minute he sees Monica that she is, in fact, Lacey's twin but doesn't say anything about it to Monica. When Monica goes to spend a weekend with her parents and Aunt Grace, she finds out that she did have a sister, but her parents tell her that the sister died as a baby.

When Lacey finally shows up at one of Monica's workshops, the two find that they have an immediate bond. Lacey isn't ready to let a sister into her life; Monica is desperate to hold on to this sister that she has just found.

The idea of twins separated and then reunited years later intrigued me and books about the relationship between sisters are always of interest to me so I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, almost immediately realized that I was going to have problems with it.

Early on, Carter does a lot of brand name dropping which I always hate in a story. I'm sure it's done to give an instant visualization of a thing but I'd really rather you described it to me--if it even needs to be described. It's probably sufficient for me to know that Lacey rides a motorcycle; I didn't feel like I needed to know exactly what model and color she rides.

Then there were things that happened throughout the book that I just was not able to buy into. When Lacey finds the flyer in the bookstore window, she immediately believes that the author has stolen her image. But the author is supposed to be coming to the bookstore for a reading--how would it not become immediately obvious that the image on her book was not real? And the fact that Mike is immediately attracted to Monica is a little odd--he's known Lacey for a long while and doesn't seem to be attracted to her despite them being identical twins.

Carter clearly knows a lot about the Deaf community; she is a graduate of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and a certified sign language interpreter. I'm all for learning while I read but whole passages here felt like lessons rather than part of the natural flow of the story. That said, I had no idea that there were "deaf idioms" or that every country has it's own sign language.

About now you're probably thinking there was nothing I liked about this book. Not true. I really did enjoy watching the sisters try to develop a relationship, particularly as they feel into the same roles that they had played as toddlers. Carter did a terrific job of making me feel Lacey's pain as she relived her life in the foster home, being raised by an unpredictable alcoholic, and her pain and anger as she dealt with the fact that her parents had gotten rid of her.

And Carter can write vivid descriptions:

"Lacey entered a small mudroom. It was crammed with coats, and shoes, and boots, and caps, yet there was a clear order to the chaos. A stacked washer and dryer combo sat to her left. The dryer was on; the flipping clothes looked like children jumping up and down in a bouncy hut. A sleeve waved at her, and she couldn't help but wave back. She started laughing then slapped her hand over her mouth, remembering hearing people could actually hear."
And I've got to admit that Carter got me--I had no idea what was going to happen in the last fifty pages. I'm generally not the easy to surprise so I give Carter big props for pulling that off.

Book clubs would find a lot in this book to discuss. Beyond the relationship between Monica and Lacey, there's also the question about what exactly makes someone a sister. Of course, because of Lacey being Deaf, and the girls' relationships with their boyfriends, there would be a lot to discuss about communication between people.

Thanks to Dorothy and Pump Up Your Book Promotions for including me in this tour!


  1. Love the cover Lisa and this does sound like a great summer read IMO --thanks so much

  2. I have heard similar opinions on this book, and although the premise does sound interesting, I think that because of the execution, I am going to have to pass on this one. I don't really enjoy name dropping either, and one of the books I read recently was just FULL of it. I can totally understand how that would annoy you, as it did me. Very thoughtful and honest review, I appreciated it!

  3. Not sure if I'll read this one or not but I find twins separated at birth and then reunited is something I find truly fascinating!

  4. I just received this book in the mail as a win and I am so excited to read it. Thanks for letting me know in advance what I might be getting into.

  5. This sounds like an interesting story, even despite its flaws. I discovered I have a half sister (albeit not a twin--she's 10 years older than I am) when I was an adult. I've since had the opportunity to meet her and her family. She's a wonderful person. If we lived closer, I imagine we would have more of an opportunity to become friends.