My Sister's Voice

Monday, May 3, 2010

Title: My Sister's Voice
Author: Mary Carter
Pages: 318
Publisher: Kensington Books
Release Date: June 1, 2010

My Sister's Voice tells the story of twin sisters, Lacey and Monica, separated early in childhood and raised as though the other doesn't exist. Lacey grows up in a children's home with a strict house mother while Monica grows up with her parents and has a wealthy lifestyle. Lacey is also deaf and Monica is hearing. The book starts when they are 28-years-old and Lacey receives an anonymous letter in the mail telling her she has a sister. She initially assumes one of her friends is playing a joke on her until she sees a picture of her sister. The rest of the story deals with Lacey deciding if she wants to meet her sister and/or her parents, why they were separated, and who wrote her the notes. The book also delves thoroughly into the deaf culture through Lacey's experiences.

The writing style in My Sister's Voice was different and difficult to get used to. In some parts the narration was normal enough, but in other parts it just didn't flow right. At one point I gave it the benefit of the doubt because I realized that the narration was literally translated from American Sign Language (that does not use the same word structure/order) but there were really only a few parts where this was the case. I felt like Lacey's behaviors in most of the book, but especially the beginning, were sort of erratic and strange. Lacey's reactions to finding out she may have a twin were, just as with many other moments in the book, contrived and unrealistic... at least, I had a difficult time believing that the characters would react the way to some situations as they did in the book. For instance, after seeing a picture for an upcoming book signing by her long lost twin, Lacey rants for pages about how she has a "face thief" and decides to get back at this person with a vengeance. She acts extremely immaturely, more than I could realistically see an adult female in this situation act. On another note, there were parts where the same issue was discussed/explored/ranted over for too long. I noticed this more in the beginning of the book but I felt like a couple paragraphs could have been removed for some of the topics. Additionally, when the characters were thinking to themselves, they would have somewhat frantic thoughts and repeat the same thing over to themselves.. over, over, over, over, over, over. It was frustrating and weird, weird, weird, weird, frustrating, weird. After a while I thought "okay, I got it"... I didn't need the character to go on more. I also felt that the dialogue was stilted in many parts.

I didn't care for these things, but the thing I mainly disliked was the characters. I despised Lacey's character for the first 3/4's of the book because she was, for one, not at all a nice character and, for two, she just seemed very immature. Monica's character was okay at first, but then her behavior became strange as well. In the end, there were also some questions I felt were unanswered completely. The reason for the girls' separation was definitely not simple, as the back of the book reads, but I had a fairly adverse reaction to that part. It was again, strange, and really only answered some of the questions I had.

While I unfortunately didn't care for this book, I do want to point out one thing I thought was good. Except for the fact that it, at times, felt as though there was an agenda, My Sister's Voice, did do a good job of revealing the internal world of Deaf culture to the reader. I found it very interesting that most Deaf (refer to the Q & A in the back to find out why it's capitalized) people consider themselves part of a different culture; a culture that shares a language and a history. I had never thought of it that way. Another interesting piece of information (which my co-worker and I learned the hard way, but that's a story for another time) is that Deaf people do NOT like to be referred to as hearing impaired... because there's nothing to fix! They do not feel as though they are missing anything -- they are just different. And all this time I'm sure most of us were so caught up with being "pc" or politically correct that I guess no one thought to ask those who are deaf what they prefer. So in this sense, I did learn a lot from reading this book. (If you do read this, I want to talk to you about a statement that's made in the end of the book because it sort of bothered me... it's related to Deaf culture).

In summary (finally, right??) this book had so many elements that could have potentially made this really good, but I just didn't care for the execution of it all.

Parts of this review will also be posted at


Juju at Tales of said...

Awesome honest review.

Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books) said...

Yep, I had the same reactions! :) I didn't have the Q&A at the back of my copy, though! What was the statement at the end that bothered you about Deaf culture?

What bothered me most is that this book had such great potential!! I guess that's what frustrated me most.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

Deaf culture is an interesting one. I know someone who refuses to acknowledge his deafness and has not learned any ways to communicate with others.

We DO all struggle with being too PC and I guess the efforts towards that should be atleast somewhat appreciated. But I understand the wanting to be accepted for what it is.

You give a very thoughtful honest review.

Zibilee said...

I have always been interested in Deaf culture, and even took a year of sign language in high school. That being said, I don't think I would really enjoy this book due to the poor execution of the story matter. I thank you for your excellent and honest review though, it really helped me determine that this book is not really for me!

Mari said...

Thanks for an honest review - there are so many books to read that it's nice to pass or set a realistic expectation. The book jacket/cover is appealing.

Connie said...

I love that you aren't afraid to pick books apart! I agree with Jennifer that it's a shame this book wasn't all that it could have been.

Jenny said...

Connie -- I do feel sort of bad but I have to be honest!!

Stephanie aka The Stark Raving Bibliophile said...

I have always been interested in deaf culture, and it sounds like this novel had tremendous potential. Thanks for the honest review.

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