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Saturday, September 29, 2012

"What Happened To My Sister" by Elizabeth Flock


From the author of Me & Emma comes a dazzling novel of two unforgettable families bound together by their deepest secrets and haunted pasts—perfect for fans of The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and The Book of Bright Ideas.
Nine-year-old Carrie Parker and her mother, Libby, are making a fresh start in the small town of Hartsville, North Carolina, ready to put their turbulent past behind them. Violence has shattered their family and left Libby nearly unable to cope. And while Carrie once took comfort in her beloved sister, Emma, her mother has now forbidden even the mention of her name.

When Carrie meets Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin, these three generations of warmhearted women seem to have the loving home Carrie has always dreamed of. But as Carrie and Cricket become fast friends, neither can escape the pull of their families’ secrets—and uncovering the truth will transform the Chaplins and the Parkers forever.

Published by:  Random House Publishing Group
Pages:  304
Author:  Elizabeth Flock
Genre:  General Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Flock is a former journalist who reported for Time and People magazines and worked as an on-air correspondent for CBS. She is the author of several acclaimed novels, including But Inside I’m Screaming and Me & Emma. She lives in New York City.


This is a tough one to review.  I found this novel a mixed bag, frankly.  It's one of those books that needs to sit with you a while before you get the total impact of it.  Told from the perspective of a child, the author takes the dialog completely to the format of a child's, making the reading disjointed and confusing in places. Very child-like. It often seemed ADHD propelled, as one of the characters was portrayed...though the main character who was telling the story wasn't supposed to be.  This made for an uncomfortable read.  I frankly didn't care for it.

What kept me reading was wondering what ever became of Emma, the "imaginary" or real little sister of protagonist Carrie.   And, I wanted to find out how on earth little Carrie would be rescued from her life of torture and abuse. 

Other than a shallow exploration of the dark dysfunction of her family, Carrie's NC "hill billie" background was never really integrated into her or her mother's characterization except for the occasional "ain't."   This was an opportunity missed, I thought, and could have led to a better developed story all together.

What was distressing and depressing about this book was the horrific and profuse details of physical assault and emotional abuse of a child.  Carrie is viciously abused by her mother and we read it in the most blistering of details time and again throughout the novel.  I found this to be just continuous and over done in the book.  Could have done with fewer examples and made the same point.

Other directions of the book such as the Ford's grandmother Chaplin's strange focus on being related to Charlie Chaplin and the manifestations of that were just bizarre!  I felt it had little bearing on the greater story being told.  Would have made for a much better book had it been left out completely.  I'm not sure if it was meant to lighten the otherwise horrendous downer of the book; to me, it just seemed silly in comparasion.

I had to skim the last nearly 100 pages to find out the resolution of the book.  It's not something I like to do, nor is it something I do on any sort of regular basis.  As I said, I only found myself doing it to find out what really happened to Emma and how they were going to get Carrie out of her abusive situation.

Do I recommend the book?  Not sure.  Maybe as a library borrow...   I warn that it does have explicit details of physical abuse of a child.

2 stars                              Deborah/TheBookishDame



Carrie Parker

If you’re reading this, I must be dead and maybe you’re going through this notebook hunting for clues. It always bugs me when I’m looking real hard for something and after a long time it turns up right under my nose where it was the whole time, so I’m going to tell you right here in the beginning all I know for certain. It may or may not make sense right now but who knows, maybe it will later on.

The first certain thing I know is that Richard’s not ever gonna hurt Momma again. The second thing is that I had a sister named Emma. Here’s what else I know: we were moving to my grandmother’s house but now we’re not. Momma says in the river of life I’m a brick in her pocket, and I’m not sure what that has to do with her changing her mind, but Momma is most assuredly not driving in the direction of Gammy’s house. So until I figure it all out, the number one most important thing you need to know so you can tell ever-body is that I, Caroline Parker, am not crazy.

I don’t care what anybody says—I’m not. I swear. People think I cain’t hear them say things when I’m in town like shh, shh, shh—there goes that Parker girl bless her crazy little heart but I’m not deaf, y’all. I’m just a kid. I’m not peculiar or crazy as an outhouse rat. And I’m gonna prove it once and for all. You wait and see. They’ll be lining up to say sorry and they’ll ask for a hug or something embarrassing like that but the best part’ll be when ever-body finally admits they’re wrong about me. I’m gonna do ever-thing right from now on. I’m gonna be like the other kids. I’m gonna be the best daughter in the whole wide universe—so good Momma’s not going to believe it. Just you wait and see.



I don't have this book and don't think I'll buy it after reading your review.


You know how I hate to blast a book...but I'm having a bad weekend of duds!!!

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