Desert Isle Keeper
When We Were Sisters
When We Were Sisters is the latest standalone offering from author Emilie Richards. It’s an intense look at America’s foster system, as well as a touching portrayal of sisterhood.
Robin and Cecilia aren’t related by blood, but they consider themselves sisters just the same. Raised together in a series of good and not-so-good foster homes, the girls formed an unbreakable bond that has lasted into their adulthood. As women, the sisters lead vastly different lives. Cecilia is one of the world’s premier pop stars. She owns several houses and has more money than she knows what to do with, but is she truly happy? Robin, on the other hand, has spent the past several years living in her husband’s shadow and has lost sight of who she really is. All that changes when Robin is injured in a car accident that takes the life of one of her close friends. Stunned by this close call with death, both women are forced to evaluate their lives and come to terms with the secrets they’re keeping from themselves and those they love.
Cecilia is determined to lay the ghosts of her past to rest, and so she agrees to film a documentary about foster care in America. She wants the world to know the secrets of her early life but, even more importantly, she wants to come clean with Robin about a set of tragic circumstances that led to their separation as teenagers. She asks Robin to serve as one of the film’s photographers, forcing the younger woman to leave her demanding husband and children behind for months at a time.
For her part, Robin jumps at the chance to get back into the photojournalism she loves, but gave up for her family’s sake. Tired of being only a wife and mother, she’s ready to face her inner demons, battle her insecurities and finally get to know her own inner strength.
The story is told in alternating chapters from three points of view. I expected to see both sisters as narrators, but was quite surprised to see Robin’s husband Chris as the third narrator. All three main characters show amazing growth throughout the story. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite, as all of them have strengths and weaknesses that make them fully human. I wanted all of them to succeed.
Parts of the novel are incredibly difficult to read, and I found myself in tears as I read accounts of the sisters’ early lives. Ms. Richards must have done extensive research into the system of foster care, for everything seemed quite authentic.
A few plot elements are perhaps a little too convenient, but although I could understand where the author was going with them, I could have wished for a little less predictability in those areas. However, I was able to forgive it for the most part simply because of the overall strength of the story.
If you’re looking for a good story about the bonds of sisterhood, I definitely recommend When We Were Sisters. It’s a book that is likely to remain with you long after you turn the final page.