Does the tale of the unwanted third child, Muriel Sullivant, begin on a cozy Sunday in her New York studio apartment, as she prepares to luxuriate in her favorite day of the week? She is grown by then, and enjoying the independence of the life she has chosen.
Or does it begin many years before, when her two parents, Owen and Lidia, met in Pawtucket, Rhode Island? That beginning would set the stage for a family of secrets and lies.
Muriel had always known that she was the unwanted child. Pia, her gorgeous sister, was the oldest and eight years her senior. Next came Logan, the son for her father. One child for Owen and one for Lidia. Then there was chubby Muriel, the outsider, who doesn’t fit in. She can sense her mother’s disapproval of her in every facial expression; her sister’s feelings show when she treats her like a nuisance.
Two Sisters: A Novel is a sad and emotional tale of all the things that go wrong in a family when the two parents feel trapped and disappointed with the lives they’re living. How does the third child survive the emotional abandonment?
I enjoyed the depth of the characters. Muriel’s sense of humor came from a place of pain, but revealed the strength of the survivor. Pia’s superficiality was altered as she came to Muriel with a big secret: a tragic event that would change all of their lives. And finally, in New Mexico, we meet Logan again, as the last of the secrets and lies are revealed.
In the opening scenes of the story, the flashbacks and fast forwards sometimes came too quickly, jolting me a bit. But then I began to settle into the flow of it.
There was a sweet feeling of new beginnings at the end. Not in an unrealistic way, but in the manner of baby steps and slow progress. There was a glimpse of hope. Recommended for those who relish family stories that are replete with secrets, especially when they are revealed slowly. Four stars.