Series: Smile #2
Raina always wanted a little sister, but when Amara came, she wasn’t what Raina expected. She typically wants to play alone and she and Raina are always having fights. But then they take a road trip with their mother. Can they find a way to get along and survive the trip? A companion novel to Smile.
I admit I found this book even less engaging than Smile, even though I recognize that Telgemeier has an excellent sense of humor and that she depicts the relationship between the sisters excellently. For reasons I find difficult to articulate to myself, I just did not find myself invested in the story. It doesn’t help that the official summary promises more drama than the book actually contains. I kept waiting for something major to happen, but it never did.
Sisters is a companion novel to Smile, taking place the summer before Raina enters high school. The story of the Telgemeiers’ road trip is interspersed with flashbacks of Raina and Amara’s relationship. We get to see how Raina longed for a sister, only to have the grumpy and isolated Amara come along. Worse, Amara ends up being an artist just like Raina. And Raina feels like her sister is stealing what makes her special.
Sisterhood can be complicated and Telgemeier expertly captures the nuances of such a relationship as the girls argue, tease, storm, and support each other. But the ending feels all too easy and takes something away from the previous story. Perhaps it’s because Amara has seemed to be reaching out in various ways all along and it’s not clear why Raina suddenly notices. Perhaps because it suggests that sisterhood from here on out is smooth sailing, even though readers know it is not. Perhaps it’s because the cover blurb suggests for reasons unknown that they are banding together to save their parents’ marriage, imparting the final pages with far more significance than the pages themselves seem to suggest. For some reason, it does not work for me.
Still, I recognize that many readers find this book special and that the depiction of sisterhood is sure to appeal to many. Fans of Smile will certainly enjoy it.