11 August 2015

Review #297: When We Were Sisters by Beth Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” 

----Elbert Hubbard, an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher

Beth Miller, a debut English author, has penned a heart-touching contemporary story, When We Were Sisters about two friends being step sisters and how this relationship changes the course of their whole loves, moreover, it's also about facing with the harsh realities that come with sudden decisions made by a parent in a child's life.


A funny, poignant debut about female friendship and dysfunctional families

I never think of Laura as my stepsister, but that's what she is.

Once they were the best of friends, inseparable as only teenage girls can be. That is until Miffy’s Jewish father ran off with Laura’s Catholic mother and both of their families imploded—as well as Laura’s intense relationship with Miffy’s brother. 20 years later, they’re all about to meet again.

Laura and Miffy were literally inseparable as teenagers, spending most of their afternoons in Laura's bedroom by trying on makeup or discussing about boys they are going to marry in the future or other girlish stuffs. This was twenty years ago, but their inseparable and unbreakable bond of friendship tore apart when Miffy's father left her family to be with Laura's mother. The gravity of each and every relationship changed when the best-of-best-friends-turned-into-stepsisters and mostly Laura's relationship with Miffy's brother, Danny, changed forever, resulting in both Miffy and Danny to blame Laura for their father's abandonment.

The writing is extremely coherent and bold. The narrative is kept funny and witty even though the story is an emotional one. The prose is free-flowing with a fast pace.

The plot progresses smoothly as Laura goes through with her bad marriage with a cheating husband, pregnancy and the death of her step father, which leads her face-to-face with her step-brother-cum-ex-boyfriend, Danny. The shifting narrative from Laura to Miffy where Miffy narrates the past twenty years ago, what possibly led to drift them apart from one another.

The theme of this novel focuses lot on changing family dynamics when a father divorces his family leaving behind his children and wife for another woman, which ultimately leads to dysfunction in the household. The book centers around a Jewish household thus Jews ideas, customs etc are vividly depicted into the storyline.

The characters are strongly developed by highlighting their flaws and strong abilities, thus making them look very real. The main characters have all been a victim of divorced parents, especially those belonging from a broken household. The voice of the protagonist, Laura, is really fun who don't give any care to the pain that she is suffering from an infidel husband. I loved those parts when Laura suddenly started to imagine a talk show programmed or a documentary related to how she wanted some of the characters to behave around her. Miffy, on the other hand, with her sweet nad sad demeanor demands for sympathy as well as pity from the readers. Honestly, I loved both of the protagonists who voiced their stories between two shifting timelines.

The backdrop is vividly captured by the author of North west London as well as Norfolk and so is the time period of 1970s and the year 2003. The book also focuses on womanhood, feminism as well as woman power, but keeping in mind about the effects on a family. In short, this is a very captivating as well as engaging novel that kept me glued till the very last page and with such various kinds of deep and raw emotions, at times, I was laughing hard to feeling tears at the corners of my eyes.

Verdict: A must read book for all contemporary fiction fans.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Beth Miller, for providing me with a copy of her book, in return for an honest review. 

Author Info:
I have been told that I write like a tall blonde, so that's how I'd like you to picture me.

I've published two novels and a non-fiction book about The Archers.

Before writing books, I did a lot of different jobs.

I worked in schools, shops, offices, hospitals, students' unions, basements, from home, in my car, and up a tree. OK, not up a tree. I've been a sexual health trainer, a journalist, a psychology lecturer, a PhD student, a lousy alcohol counsellor, and an inept audio-typist. I sold pens, bread, and condoms. Not in the same shop. I taught parents how to tell if their teenagers are taking drugs (clue: they act like teenagers), and taught teenagers how to put on condoms (clue: there won't really be a cucumber). I taught rabbis how to tell if their teenagers are druggedly putting condoms on cucumbers.

Throughout this, I always wrote, and always drank a lot of tea. I'm now pretty much unbeatable at drinking tea.
Visit her here

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1 comment:

  1. Oh wow it sounds like this book really does capture a lot. I can't imagine my best friend suddenly becoming my step sister, and I can see how that would definitely change some relationships.


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