Title: The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
An absorbing, highly entertaining novel about family secrets, The Never Never Sisters introduces you to the strong-willed and big-hearted Reinhardt women, as they reunite one summer in New York. Gifted storyteller L. Alison Heller has written another witty and moving page-turner that will captivate readers and keep them guessing right up until the satisfying end.
Sometimes you just need to get away….
Marriage counselor Paige Reinhardt is counting down the days to summer, eager to reconnect with her workaholic husband at their cozy rental cottage in the Hamptons. But soon a mysterious crisis at Dave’s work ruins their getaway plans. Paige is still figuring out how to handle the unexplained chill in her marriage when her troubled sister suddenly returns after a two-decade silence. Now, instead of enjoying the lazy summer days along the ocean, Paige is navigating the rocky waters of a forgotten bond with her sister in the sweltering city heat.
As she attempts to dig deeper into Dave’s work troubles and some long-held family secrets, Paige is shocked to discover how little she knows about the people closest to her. This summer, the self-proclaimed relationship expert will grapple with her biggest challenge yet: Is it worth risking your most precious relationships in order to find yourself?
The Never Never Sisters by L. Alison Heller is a very insightful and captivating journey of healing, forgiveness and self-discovery. It is also a thought-provoking novel about family relationships and how well we really know (or don’t know) our loved ones.
At the outset of The Never Never Sisters, Paige Reinhardt’s life is picture perfect. She is happily married with a successful career as a marriage counselor and she has a close relationship with her parents. But her world slowly careens out of control after her husband, Dave, is temporarily suspended and her sister Sloane comes back into their lives after a twenty year absence. Dave is very secretive about the reason for his suspension and Sloane remains evasive about her sudden desire to reconnect with her family. Paige’s search for the truth leads to unexpected revelations that have surprising consequences for her various relationships.
Much of The Never Never Sisters is written in first person from Paige’s point of view. She is a very likable character but due to her family’s history, she is the good girl in the family. She does what is expected of her and although now in her early thirties, she continues to be very involved with her parents’ lives. Much of her childhood is shrouded in secrecy with her parents refusing to discuss Sloane’s addiction or disappearance. This pattern is repeated with Dave’s suspension and Paige is content with his explanation until a breaking news story arouses her suspicions that he might somehow be involved in the emerging scandal.
Paige’s relationship with Sloane is strained and it takes much of the novel to mend the rift between them. Communication is an issue for the sisters and this leads to erroneous assumptions and misconceptions on both sides. Sloane is impatient with Paige’s lack of self-awareness and Paige is frustrated by Sloane’s inability to forgive past mistakes.
For me, the most compelling part of The Never Never Sisters is the mystery surrounding Dave’s suspension. Although she has a few misgivings about Dave’s assertions that he does not know why he was suspended, Paige initially accepts his story at face value. But gradually, little things begin to raise warning flags and she is forced to confront her growing doubts that he is being completely honest with her.
The Never Never Sisters is a well-written and engaging novel that is quite riveting. Paige’s growth as a character is phenomenal and it is incredibly gratifying watching her become more assertive and take charge of her life. She also becomes more reflective and introspective which helps her view her relationships more honestly and make some long overdue changes. L. Alison Heller does an excellent job keeping the story fresh and unique with a very surprising plot twist. All in all, a wonderful novel with appealing characters, a realistic storyline and a satisfying (and rather unexpected) ending.