Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock

What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock

Date Published: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0345524430
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 2.0 out of 5

Book Summary: 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.

My Thoughts: Caroline Parker (Carrie) first appeared as a narrator in Elizabeth Flock’s dark, troubling novel, Me & Emma (my review). Flock continues the story of Carrie and her family in What Happened to My Sister. Although it’s been seven years since Me & Emma graced bookstore shelves, little time has passed for Carrie. This book opens with Carrie and her mother, Libby, driving away from Murchison, the small North Carolina town where they lived, after a horrific incident altered their lives. Carrie believes they’re on their way to her Grandma’s house, possibly in Asheville, but they only make it as far as the rundown Loveless Motel in Hartsville.

I was looking forward to this book, especially because Carrie and her mother are forging a new life together. I hoped things would eventually work out for them, though I expected it would be difficult for a little while at least. Remembering Flock’s exploration of the psychological manifestations of Carrie’s struggles and how she coped with life, I hoped for a similar treatment of Libby considering how rough life had been on her. I hoped, at least, to know Libby better and understand her behavior a bit more. Unfortunately, What Happened to My Sister is as different from Me & Emma as seemingly possible. Where her first book was layered, smart and sad but inspiring with some shocking twists, this book is predictable, one-dimensional and dull. It becomes difficult to believe this Carrie is the same person from Me & Emma. She meets with so many favorable circumstances and amazing coincidences, we’re forced to suspend belief to the nth degree and enter a land of fairytales. Towards the end, a couple of surprises are revealed but for readers who didn’t figure them out on their own, they come too late to prove exciting.

I can’t help but wonder what inspired the Flock to wait seven years for a sequel that is so polar opposite of the original. There are too many ridiculously fortuitous situations that make everything else about the book predictable. Had the first book not been so good, this may have held up on its own as better-than-average chick-lit, but as it is, when compared to its predecessor (as all sequels are, unfairly or not), I found What Happened to My Sister to be just a plain disappointment.

See Elizabeth Flock's Website
See Elizabeth Flock's Facebook Page

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to review What Happened to My Sister and to Ballantine Books for an ARC copy of the book.


  1. I loved Me & Emma, but after reading yours and a couple other reviews of this sequel, I think I'll skip it. I admit I was surprised when I first heard about the sequel. The first book stands so well on its own--I like how it left off and think it was best left standing on its own.

  2. It sounds like this one was vastly unimpressive by the standards of the first book, and I would have probably been frustrated by it as well. I am glad that you gave this one such an honest review, now I know I can pass on it!

  3. Oh, too bad -- that's heartbreaking! I haaaaate it when that happens. I always wish at moments like this I could erase the sequel and linger with the original. Boo!

  4. I keep reading this pales in comparison to Me and Emma, which I haven't read yet. I guess I should check out the first book and skip this one.

  5. I read Me and Emma when it was first released many moons ago. I remember liking it but sadly don't remember much of the story.

    I wonder how this one would work for someone who hadn't read and loved the first book, or someone like me who remembers very little about the 7 year old first novel?

    sorry it was so disappointing.

  6. Oh man … I can't imagine what a disappointment this must have been .. especially since the first book was so good. It must have been like getting ready to visit with old friends and finding it going really poorly. Sorry to hear this.

  7. Darn, I'm sorry this one didn't turn out to be a favorite for you, but thanks for being on the tour.