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Book Review: A Gift for My Sister by Ann Pearlman

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In this imaginative story, A Gift for My Sister, two half sisters learn how lovingly human the other is through incidents that would seem to drive them apart. Young Tara becomes pregnant while still in high school and runs off with the leader of a rap band. Her personality and hip language would, in so many ways, remind the reader of a deliberately belligerent uncouth teen striking out with pounding rap to show the world just how totally experienced and independent she is.

Like so many confrontational youth of Tara’s type who broadcast through music that they have tasted life’s full potential when in fact, what she’s tasted is the thinnest wedge life’s pie has to offer, Tara and her child moves around with her rap friends. But this woman is lucky. Both she and her musical group are, indeed, talented. They are arriving at the very edge of success through various triumphal on-stage tours.

In A Gift for My Sister, Sky’s personality is the exact archetype of Tara’s rebellious, in many ways — unpleasant — character. Sky lives in a splendid townhouse along beautiful beachfront property. She has reached success as an outstanding lawyer. Like her sister, Sky, also, has a child by a faithful husband she adores. To this woman, husband and child mean everything. She has arrived at the pinnacle of success and hopes to stay there.

But Sky’s success is short-lived. Because of financial reasons, the law firm that employs her must shrink its size. Her job is eliminated. Next, Sky finds that the husband she cannot live without has contracted some type of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Hospital technicians and laboratory chemists are unable to design a type of antibiotic to counterattack what seemed, at first, to be a small local skin infection, but it spreads rapidly. The MRSA cannot be killed. Sky will die and does.

In a very touching scene in the hospital, Sky’s dying husband makes her sister Tara vow to take care of Sky who will certainly need comfort and support. Now the two sisters’ personalities are forced together. At first, Tara treats Sky with appropriate pity and Sky accepts it. It is necessary. But sooner or later, pity alone will not provide a successful lifestyle for two sisters. In A Gift for My Sister conflict arises as surely as the friction between two pieces of sandpaper.

Here is where this reviewer will leave the reader to discover for her/himself how these two sisters eventually deal with their own lives. Will the opposition between their characters dissolve, or will genuine soul searching force each sister to simply go her own way?

All in all, the characters in A Gift for My Sister are very well developed, so much so, that I found Tara’s immature personality disagreeable from the beginning of the book. Sky, on the other hand, seemed to fit my idea of an adult. I would recommend this book to any reader seeking a story where audacity and courage force two very different women to uncover their inner souls and move on.

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