Like A Sister: A Novel

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9780060193607: Like A Sister: A Novel

Sister cannot say exactly when or where she was when she first saw--heard--that look, and maybe it was sometime at night after she lay down to sloop, but she saw it. Then her eyes sprang wide and her lips parted and she repeated over and over like a sinner's prayer how she would not sorry away like Marnie...
-- From Like a Sister

It is 1956 and Sister is only thirteen years old, but she is a mother to her two younger twin brothers and her toddler sister. Her mother, Marnie, has had a string of boyfriends, and her latest is more interested in building up business at his new café than he is in raising three children that are not his own. Marnie is involved in the café as well--but Sister is not exactly sure how. All she knows is that Marnie isn't around very much. Things weren't always this way--at one time they were close, "just like sisters." Now it seems they are strangers, and Sister has noticed that the neighbors are giving each other looks--looks that say that whatever Marnie is up to at the café, it isn't respectable.

Deciding that she will not follow in Marnie's footsteps, Sister begins to take charge of her life, as best she can, by minding her manners, and by befriending her kindly next-door neighbor, Willa, who seems to Sister to be a fine example of how a mother should be. But then Ray Williams, a respected and powerful man in town, begins to notice the blossoming Sister, and when he realizes that she has no adult supervision, he sets his sights on her. Willa steps in to intervene, and Sister thinks she may have found salvation, but in Like a Sister, all is never what it seems.

A haunting coming-of-age tale, Like a Sister will linger in the minds of readers long after the last page has been turned.

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About the Author:

Janice Daugharty is Artist-in-Residence at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, in Tifton, Georgia. She is the author of one story collection and five novels: Dark of the Moon, Necessary Lies, Pawpaw Patch, Earl in the Yellow Shirt, and Whistle.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The prolific Daugharty (Whistle, 1998, etc.) has quietly become one of the most original chroniclers of dysfunctional southern families. Her latest traces the efforts of an adolescent girl to distance herself from the self-destructive, yet alluring behavior of her feckless mother. Athena Kaye, known to everyone as Sister, is 13 years old, and exhausted. She has been dragged across the rural South by her restless, chaotic mother, Marnie, who has a habit of taking off town at night, ``dodging wives and debts,'' and leaving behind ``lusting men and short-handed employers.'' Sister struggles to tend to her younger twin brothers and to her baby sister, but the job is increasingly too much for her. The family has come to rest most recently in the small town of Cornerville, where Marnie's latest boyfriendthe aptly named Sadeaugments his juke-joint income by charging the locals for Marnie's favors. Despite her mother's long history of irresponsibility, Sister isn't prepared for Marnie's eventual flight from the abusive Sade, leaving her children behind. Now Sister must try to fend off both the locals who want to break up the family and Ray Williams, a randy politician who follows Sister around. The family is separated, and Williams breaks into the house where Sister has taken shelter, then rapes her. When he returns the next day, she kills him and, with the aid of a quiet, caring neighbor, Willa Lamar, hides the body. Willa's unselfish act changes Sisters view of the harsh world shes grown up inand dissipates her longing for a reunion with her mother. When Marnie finally does show up, she finds a much altered young woman. The tales outline may be unsurprising, but Daugharty, as usual, invests the story with considerable inventiveness, as well as a tough-minded morality. Her resilient characters have an idiosyncratic and convincing reality. A spare, strong addition to Daugharty's portraits of loss and redemption. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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