Not even halfway through reading "Best Kept Secret" (the first novel I read by Amy Hatvany), I knew I would want to devour all of her books. Was I surprised that I also loved "Outside The Lines?" Absolutely not! I’m sure you see the common thread here and can predict I will say that "The Language of Sisters" is a beautiful and stunning novel.
Ten years ago, Nicole Hunter left her troubled home behind her, unable to cope with the demands of a life with her disabled sister, Jenny. Though her search for happiness—both in career and in love—has fallen short of her dreams, Nicole pretends that all is well. Then a shattering event turns her world upside down, and suddenly, she is back in her hometown, caring for her pregnant sister and trying to heal her embattled relationship with her mother.
Reunited with her family and forced to confront the guilt that haunts her, Nicole finally has the chance to be the sister she always wished she’d been. And when she is faced with the most difficult choice of her life, Nicole rediscovers the beauty of sisterhood—and receives a special gift that will change her life forever. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)
"The Language of Sisters" is a beautifully written and powerful novel. Throughout the pages the reader experiences emotions of joy, sorrow, happiness and grief all rolled into one.
From when they were babies Nicole and Jenny’s mom always spoke of Jenny as being the “angel” or “perfect” child and Nicole was anything but. Because I’m an only child, I cannot imagine what it’s like to be considered second and always hearing praises only towards a sibling and not yourself. This constant comparing only leads to self-doubt and negativity in the child. I personally wouldn’t be able to handle it. What I can only imagine being equally as difficult was the fact that Nicole's tending to and taking care of her sister always came before playing with her friends and just being able to be a kid. You only get to be a kid once and those years are the most precious and carefree times a person has. It’s kind of like being robbed of your youth, you know? But on the flip side it made Nicole a stronger person. Perhaps if she didn’t go through these times she wouldn’t have been able to take on the challenge that she did later on in her life by returning to her childhood home.
I love how Amy portrayed and wrote Nicole as the heroine. I admire Nicole because somewhere deep down inside she realized that this shattering event was a sign to go home and work through all of the painful memories from her childhood. I’m not sure everyone could just pick up and move away from their established lives, where their job, friends and significant others are. But apparently inner callings from siblings are pretty strong and cannot be ignored. I don’t know this personally, but it’s pretty vivid in this story. I also admire how Nicole stuck to her guns even when the going got tough. Can you imagine how difficult it must be taking care of her pregnant sister with special needs? One who basically cannot do anything for herself? Several times Nicole thought to herself: “I can’t do this.” “Why did come here and decide to do this?” But as the reader sees she didn’t quit, working hard instead to try to reunite with her family.
Amy’s writing and use of words has a way that makes her characters come to life, like page pop-ups in children’s stories. Unfortunately I am not in a book club, but I can say with certainty that this would be a fantastic pick. I fell in-love with this book and couldn’t put it down. I hope you all will too!
Oh, by the way, at the end of the book there is an exclusive first look at "Heart Like Mine," Amy's next novel coming out in March 2013, which I CAN’T wait to read!
Thanks to Atria for the book in exchange for an honest review.
For anyone who is interested in learning more about Rett Syndrome, the disorder that Jenny has, watch this documentary narrated by Julia Roberts, where Amy’s mother and father are interviewed.
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