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Secrets, Lies and My Sister Kate

Secrets, Lies and My Sister Kate

1.0 1
by Belinda Hollyer

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Belinda Hollyer warms the heart with this touching novel about the bond of two sisters and the true meaning of family.

Mini adores her older sister, Kate. Although they look nothing like each other, they are best friends-or so Mini thinks-until Kate begins to act strangely. She dresses in all black, picks bitter fights with her parents, and even gets a tattoo!


Belinda Hollyer warms the heart with this touching novel about the bond of two sisters and the true meaning of family.

Mini adores her older sister, Kate. Although they look nothing like each other, they are best friends-or so Mini thinks-until Kate begins to act strangely. She dresses in all black, picks bitter fights with her parents, and even gets a tattoo! Mini knows something is bothering her sister, but Kate won't confide in her like she used to. Then one day Kate disappears without a trace. In her determination to find her sister, Mini unveils a shocking family secret that paralyzes her parents with regret. Now it's up to Mini to find Kate and bring their broken family back together again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This British import is suffused with family secrets, beginning with the geography-obsessed narrator's real name-she goes by Mini, but hates her given name ("The snows on Mount Kilimanjaro, which, as you may know, is a very high triple volcano in Tanzania, could melt away entirely, but I will still not like my name"), which isn't revealed until the end. Mini, 12, and her older sister, Kate, play a fantasy travel game together, envisioning themselves in far-flung locales, and Kate attempts to protect Mini from her tempestuous arguments with their parents, even as Mini tries to figure out what the fights are about. Unpopular at school and feeling left out of the loop at home, Mini finally learns that her parents have mishandled a situation regarding her sister's adoption, after Kate runs away. Mini's ability to track down her missing sister lacks credibility, but she is a spirited and charismatic heroine, and her devotion to her sister fuels the book's emotional core. While the story drags in spots, readers will be drawn into this portrait of an unraveling family. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

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Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
Kate has been a wonderful big sister for all of Mini's life. As daughter, big sister, role model, she has been just about perfect, and although she is now a teenager, she still gets along with their parents! But suddenly something changes. Kate is no longer interested in the imaginary trips along the Silk Road that she and Mini used to take. She is angry,—angrier than she has ever been, and her parents and sister cannot understand or cope with the ramifications. Worst of all is the tattoo, even though it's just a small one. Then Kate disappears, but she has left a hint of where she might be found, and Mini is pretty sure that her sister has gone to the beach where the family has had wonderful fun in the past. Mini pulls out some old photo albums and starts leafing through them. She finds pictures of the family at the beach—but who is that man holding Kate? It turns out that there have been secrets and lies surrounding these girls since Mini was born. Kate was adopted, and the man holding her in the picture is her biological father. This man has recently written to her adoptive parents, letting them know that Kate's biological mother has died. Her adoptive mother feels that Kate doesn't need to know right away, and sticks the letter in a drawer. But Kate has already seen the letter, opens it, reads it, and feels as if her whole life has been a lie. What she didn't know did hurt her, and it hurt Mini, too. The family finally talks honestly about everything, and the reader feels that ultimately they will be a stronger family. This book is a good read, meaningful without being didactic. Recommended. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

In this British import, Mini, 12, offers an unfiltered take on her family as they navigate some bumpy psychological terrain. She adores her older sister, Kate, who still indulges Mini's love of a made-up game in which they take imaginary trips. Mini is a likable, forthright narrator who admits that most of her classmates find her obsession with geography odd. She's thrilled to make friends with a new student, Satch, and their bond is further strengthened because both have an embarrassing secret: he works to conceal his stutter and Mini's given name makes her cringe. She confides that the tension at home is becoming unbearable due to Kate's newly defiant behavior (she gets a tattoo, misses her curfew, etc.), and Satch reassures Mini that his family life is equally stormy. When Kate runs away, Satch helps Mini figure out how to find her and bring her home. Hints sprinkled through the story may tip readers off that Kate's troubles involve her being an adoptee (she's upset that news of her birth mother's death has been withheld from her), but Hollyer keeps the astute Mini unaware of this fact longer than is believable. Only Mini and Satch are fully drawn characters. However, the author is successful at building dramatic tension and exploring the trauma and drama of secrets and lies that accompany some adoptions. Readers interested in these issues and those seeking books about the angst of establishing independence from family will find a satisfying story here.-Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA

Kirkus Reviews
When her older sister Kate disappears, almost-13-year-old Mini uncovers a family secret in trying to find her. Aside from Kate, Mini lacks close friends. Classmates find her "weird" and "boring" because of her passion for geography, but Kate always understands Mini and her "geography thing." Aware "it's not a good idea to be different at school," Mini befriends Satch, a new kid with a stutter. In spite of this budding relationship, her world wobbles when predictable Kate starts fighting with their parents, comes home with a tattoo and eventually vanishes. Confounded that her adored sister left without confiding in her, Mini applies intuition and geographical skills to track Kate, discovering a lot about her family and herself in the process. Mini's insightful, humorous first-person narrative reveals a sensitive girl with an honest self-image who is able to appreciate how her parents, her sister and her new friend feel. Although driven by the mystery of Kate's disappearance, the heart of this story really lies in the down-to-earth family drama and its satisfying, realistic resolution. (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Belinda grew up in a small harbour town in New Zealand: a glorious place to be a child. She shared a pony with her sisters, and spent most of her time reading, riding, and playing on the beach at the bottom of their road. (Even now, tidal water still tugs at her imagination.) Career-wise, Belinda has enjoyed different combinations of children and books - as a teacher, a librarian, a book publisher, and now as an almost-full-time writer. She has lived in Beirut, and Melbourne, and on the south coast in England, and now she mostly divides her time between London and Key West (in Florida). Belinda lives in Primrose Hill, North London, with her partner, Bruce.

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Secrets, Lies and My Sister Kate 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago