Tag Archive for Penguin books
AUTHOR: Sean Olin
The story of Will and Asheley, a brother and sister who have been left to their own devices most of their lives. Abandoned by their father and brought up by an emotionally, and sometimes physically, absent, alcoholic mother, the pair have made it through high school mainly by sheer determination.
Will, although having left behind acne and bad clothes, is still socially awkward and given to outbursts of violence, while Asheley, quiet and solitary, is looking for more acceptance.
Told in alternating points of view and as if the pair are answering questions being asked in a police interrogation, Brother/Sister paints an increasingly disturbing picture of a dysfunctional family and teens who have stepped across the line from social angst to social danger.
Olin skilfully paints both characters in a way that it is impossible to not feel both sympathy and horror for them. He closes in on subjects like incest without any squeamishness or attempt to make it sound acceptable or inevitable; nor is there any glorification of any of the violence that unfolds.
Stark rather than graphic, it’s impossible to not feel something when reading this book. It does require a more mature reader – in emotion if not chronological age – and probably would appeal more to boys than girls. Be prepared for questions if the reader is younger and be very sure you are prepared to be as honest in your answers as Olin is in his writing.
I’m not sure you can call this an enjoyable read but it is definitely a very good read and a timely one given we live in a society and an age where violence is often glorified and the true horror of having performed an act of violence rarely expressed.
Olin also managed to surprise me with the ending – a rare occurrence indeed as I’m usually one of those annoying people who figures plots out (I spent the entire time watching Sixth Sense muttering “oh come on people, he’s dead, what is wrong with you all?”)