By: Michelle Adams
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 10/3/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
As dark and sinister as The Sinner, by Petra Hammesfahr (TV-mini-series-which I loved) and Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Multi-layered, Complex, Spine-tingling, and Twisty, with an explosive conclusion you do not see coming.
Narrated by Dr. Irini Harringford, (an anaesthetist at Queen’s College Hospital); the unwanted little girl now a woman living in London —haunted by the scars, unknowns, and mysteries of her past. The missing gaps.
Daughter of Maurice and Cassandra and sister, Elle in Scotland. Only for three years. Then she was sent away. She was the good daughter (age three). Why did they keep the bad daughter Elle (age seven) and send her away?
The years of studying to become a doctor to wear a mask so people would not see the real her. Maybe she does not recall. A life where she had parents. A past with somebody other than Elle.
“Sometimes I think I can remember my mother’s face: like mine, only older, redder, wrinkles like a spider’s web weaving around her lips. Other times I’m not so sure. But I’m sure that she didn’t offer any last-minute advice to be a good girl, no quick kiss on the cheek to tide me over. I would have remembered that, wouldn’t I? She slammed the car door, stepped back, and my aunt and uncle drove me away from her like it was the most normal thing in the world. And even then, I knew something was over. I have been given away, cast out, dumped.”
Elle is her sister. Her only sister from a previous life from which she has kept a few memories. Some are blurry, some are hauntingly real. She is the last remaining connection to a past she has tried desperately to forget. Elle is her destiny.
She is utterly inescapable. She is back to ruin things. Torment her, and create havoc in every part of her life. She even killed their family dog, Toto, plus so much more . . . (way more than Irini knows)
Irini is living with a man Antonio whom she will not marry. She had no role models. She really would like a family, but it feels too dangerous. She only needs someone to care for her for the last twenty-nine years.
When Irini was only three-years-old her parents sent her away. They kept one daughter, Ella, and sent her away. She has never discovered why.
Presently, her sister Ella has found her once again. After six years of absence, she has managed to worm her way back into her life. Ella is a dark monster. One she runs from. One she is indebted to.
A message, that their mum (Cassandra) has died. Of course, a mother is nothing more to her than an idea. A dream. A childish hope. However, she is curious. Ella needs her. Once again after six years, of keeping her distance, she weakens her. She makes her feel guilty. She owes her. Ella constantly reminds her.
She agrees to return home. Possibly she will use this as an opportunity to find answers to her past. Maybe she will find the truth from her father. The why? Why did she have to leave her home and family to go and live with a woman who did not want her?
The missing part of this puzzle. Why did her aunt continue to move them each time Elle found them. How can she pass up the chance to know why they gave her away and kept Elle?
Elle is everything superficially, Irini is not. Irini has a limp due to her dysplastic hip. She is a cripple. She has deep scars. She is chubby. Elle is beautiful, thin, fit, enigmatic captivating, and has confidence.
Elle is the one person who never tired of finding her. This knowledge was for Irini, an addiction. The fact no matter how far she runs, Elle will find her. The only thing worse than her absence was her presence. A risky game of cat and mouse.
But it is too late to ask for answers because all that remains is her mom's grave, the secrets of the past buried with her and out of reach. The little butterfly returning to the nest. The grand Victorian house with all its wealth. One she was not a part of. One giant black hole waiting to suck her in.
With all their wealth, she had to settle for hand-me-downs. Discarded things for a discarded child.
The return was not as she expected. She does not belong here. Ella is still manipulative and evil. She was the one they kept. Even after they sent her away, Ella would seek her out and deliver her from the bullies. The late-night trips she would leave Aunt Jemina’s house to meet her sister. She was hoping her father would explain.
Now, she still has no answers. Irini wants to leave. She feels trapped. Ella drugs her in order to get her to stay. Two broken girls. Mental illness. Dysfunctional families. However, there is much more to the story than Irini can imagine. What is everyone covering up?
Before she can speak to her father. He suddenly dies but not before he redoes his will. Leaving everything to the daughter he gave up.
Is Elle setting her up for a fall? Now the police are questioning her about the death of her father. How is Antonio mixed up in all of this? What do the strange numbers mean on the will? Then she meets a friend of Elle. Matt. Everyone knows Elle is a sociopath. Reckless. Manipulative. A killer.
Are we our parents? "We are what they make us either by their presence or through their absence."
Were they really trying to protect her by sending her away? A cover-up? What do suicides in the 1990s at Fair Fields along the Scottish Border have to do with her sister?
Is Elle a scared girl running from her past. Is she a murderer? Who will stop her? Killed to save her sister and to save herself. Will Irini keep her secrets?
I was glued to the pages of this page-turner! Love stories of hidden secrets of families. Elle will give you the spine-tingling chills! (Was dying to find out the mystery. It is a big one and one you do not anticipate.) Unpredictable.
I am shocked there has not been more "hype" surrounding IF YOU KNEW MY SISTER (prime for the big screen). As I was reading, was strongly reminded of The Sinner, in many ways with the toxic relationship and deep scars of two sisters. The forgotten past. The missing links. The dysfunction, violence, abandonment, and the tug and pull between the two sisters. The dark secrets, drugs, manipulation, evil, and the love/hate relationship. Was one sacrificed for the other?
Family. The butterfly effect. (many relations to butterflies). Hidden meanings. . . Madame Butterfly.
The ending left unanswered questions, so wondering if we may get a sequel, or meant to leave us pondering. Would love to learn more about these haunting characters and secrets of Fair Fields and Elle's POV. An ideal choice for books clubs and further discussions.
Well-written, dark, disturbing, twisty, and unsettling. Looking forward to reading more from the talented author. Fans of Lisa Unger, Ruth Ware, Jennifer Jaynes, and Jennifer Hillier will enjoy Adams' debut IF YOU KNEW MY SISTER.
A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an early reading copy. I also purchased the audiobook narrated by Emily Pennant-Rea for an engaging listening experience.