Two Sisters

( 17 )

Overview

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired, and round, she worships her beautiful blond sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was...

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Two Sisters

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Overview

One family, two sisters, a lifetime of secrets . . .

The third child in a family that wanted only two, Muriel Sullivant has always been an outsider. Short, dark-haired, and round, she worships her beautiful blond sister, Pia, and envies the close bond she shares with their mother, Lidia. Growing up in their shadow, Muriel believes that if she keeps all their secrets—and she knows plenty, outsiders always do—they will love her, too.

But that was a long time ago. Now an adult, Muriel has accepted the disappointments in her life. With her fourth-floor walk-up apartment and entry-level New York City job, she never will measure up to Pia and her wealthy husband, their daughter, and their suburban Connecticut dream home. Muriel would like nothing better than to avoid her judgmental family altogether. One thing she does quite well.

Until the day Pia shows up to visit and share devastating news that Muriel knows she cannot tell—a secret that will force her to come to terms with the past and help her see her life and her family in unexpected new ways.

Two Sisters is a powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—as well as their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“Book clubs will find much to discuss in this fraught, fascinating family drama.”
Adriana Trigiani
“a page turning novel that holds you in its tender, often hilarious and poignant grip from page one. [...] Loaded with emotion, laughter, surprise and ultimately the message of the fragility of life, TWO SISTERS will burn through the sisterhood of book clubs like a fever.”
New York Journal of Books
“Gripping and thought provoking, Two Sisters digs deep into emotions getting to the heart of family dynamics.”
Lauren Grodstein
“Mary Hogan’s Two Sisters is a mesmerizing journey into the secrets that can split apart brothers and sisters, children and their parents. It’s the perfect read for anyone who knows the way families can hold you up while breaking your heart.”
Jill Smolinski
“Exquisitely written, heartbreakingly honest, TWO SISTERS is the kind of story that will keep you turning pages into the night. A joy to read.”
Fitness magazine
“Readers will dig the dramatic twists and sibling rivarly at the heart of Mary Hogan’s Two Sisters.”
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-20
In Hogan's first adult fiction (she has sevenYA titles to her credit), the poisonous relationship between two sisters, and the family dysfunction that grew it, is examined with style and sensitivity. Muriel had her Sunday planned: She would hole up for hours of binge TV-watching and a tub of popcorn in her Manhattan apartment. But then Pia calls, and Muriel's day is transformed. As she waits for her older sister's arrival from Connecticut, Muriel recalls a childhood marked by exclusion and petty cruelties; her older sister was perfect, and their mother, Lidia, made no effort to hide her preference in daughters. Lidia, beautiful and perpetually dissatisfied with her life in Queens, had forced a shotgun marriage on the girls' father, Owen, an engineer who preferred tinkering in the basement to talking with his family. Little has changed in the ensuing years; their parents are remote, and brother Logan has abandoned the family altogether. Pia, with sculpted hair and body, lives in the rarefied air of Westport with a financier husband and accomplished daughter. Muriel is an assistant casting agent with few friends or romantic prospects; she is the moon to Pia's sun. But when Pia comes for that Sunday visit, it's to confess a secret—she's dying of cancer and has come to the city to buy a dress to be buried in. Muriel is good at keeping secrets (she never told anyone that Pia nearly killed her on a beach outing or that her mother was having an affair with their priest), and now Pia is asking her to keep this news from Lidia. When the narrative shifts from Muriel's perspective to Pia's, the malicious older sister is humanized, if not entirely redeemed. Pia's battle with cancer is vivid and heartbreaking, Muriel's guilt (for not being lovable) is tragic, though nothing compares to Lidia's final, scandalous confession. Hogan's characters may be too broadly drawn (one sister so callous, the other so naïve), but she creates a gripping narrative of a fractured family.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062279934
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 86,103
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Hogan is the NAPPA Award-winning author of seven young-adult books. Two Sisters is her first novel for adults. She lives in New York City with her husband, Bob, and their dog, Lucy.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

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1 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    If you want a secret kept safe, Muriel is the one to tell it to.

    If you want a secret kept safe, Muriel is the one to tell it to. In her entire life, the only connection she had with her beautiful and worshipped mother, Lidia, and equally mesmerizing sister, Pia, are the things she's seen or gone through with them, or because of them. Never once, though, has Muriel broken her promises and told a soul. With her father emotionally absent and bonded to his only son, Logan, and Lidia and Pia always excluding others, Muriel continues to be the outcast in a family of four who accidentally had a fifth.




    Now an adult at twenty-three and living in New York with an entry level job, Muriel still keeps her promises, but limits her time with family. She prefers Sundays securely snug in the comfort and safety of her tiny fourth-floor walk-up apartment, eating popcorn while on the bed and reading the Times. Planning the day starts off like any other, but when her perfect sister Pia, now living in Connecticut with the perfect husband, house, and daughter, unexpectedly calls to spend Sunday with her, little does she know her entire life will change. What Muriel once thought about her family turns upside-down and sideways as relationships are scrutinized, past events are inspected again, all because of one more secret Pia has to share.




    No matter how odd it may sound that I loved a story so sad and heartbreaking, Two Sisters resulted in just that. Beautifully written, Muriel's sad story is oftentimes difficult to read, frustration seeping in for the reader as Lidia and Pia dig at Muriel, cruelly teasing Muriel's hair, shape, and more. With reminders that being the odd man out in any situation can feel horrible, within a family, it can be damaging.




    I couldn't put down Two Sisters and ended up flying through it in a day. It was an excellent change of pace from my current reading preferences, and I enjoyed every page. With truly nasty, unlikable characters throughout, Muriel's the ultimate underdog, and I cheered her on. While things tied up a little too neatly for my preferences, I loved Muriel's story, her quiet attempts to bond with her sister and mother tugging at my heartstrings.




    Mary Hogan has a gift when writing the voice of the tortured soul excluded from others, and I'm eager to read more from her. I've heard that this is her first foray into adult fiction, with seven previously published books in the YA genre, so I'm excited to dive more into her work when her next adult novels come out.




    Book club readers will definitely feel inclined to share their own personal family stories after reading Two Sisters. There is much to think about and mull over with others, and the simultaneously sweet and harsh message that sometimes you have to look at who you are, instead of always thinking everyone else is the problem, might hit home for many. The words lift from the page, pulling you into Muriel's world and I happily went into it, no matter how sad it sometimes could be.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2014

    I was inspired to read the novel because of the title, ¿Two Sist

    I was inspired to read the novel because of the title, “Two Sisters”.I was somewhat like Muriel in that I was a middle child. I have had a lot of life experiences. I was a tomboy for my dad,
    because there were no sons for Dad - just girls.I also came from a dysfunctional family that didn’t have the ability to fulfill purposes accepted as beneficial or normal.I also liked Pia who announced that Jesus Christ was her personal savior and said the Bible taught her everything
    she needed to know. My mother constantly nagged me and my other sisters (Good Lord rest her soul).I liked excursions with my mom, but that was a long time ago.Somewhere in time, everything went awry.Wouldn’t it be nice, if real life could be worked out in a good way like a good novel?Truthfully, what family doesn’t have some kind of secret?Life is too short to hold grudges. I am of the opinion (be it so humble) that Mary Hogan’s well-written novel can help readers with real life, and working out some of the kinks that tend to hold us back from enjoying life.It is always better to forgive... forgetting is the hard part.I believe each of us can learn something new, and even take away something good from this novel.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    A tale about family, deceit, love, loss, and becoming a person.

    A tale about family, deceit, love, loss, and becoming a person. I loved it.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2014

    Anonymous

    Dysfunctional is the key word to describe the family in this book. My heart went out to the children, Pia, lost in her own selfish world, Logan, desperately trying to find his world, and most of all, Muriel, needing love, acceptance, a place in a family that continually abuses her. This book left me feeling depressed and sad.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2014

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings A family of 5 t

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    A family of 5 that didn't start on the best foundation and from the parents to the children they all had issues.  The book unfolds in the present with flashbacks into the past when the parents of the family met and "fell" in love.  As a reader, I definitely had to pay attention as it switched in the middle of the chapter to the past and then back to the present story.

    As a product of a fantastic family and childhood, it is hard to read about characters who have it rough from the moment they are born and well into adulthood.  It was easy to care for Muriel as she is the outside and you just want her to find an independence and depart from the dramas of her family.  I definitely talked straight to the characters in this book, they irritated me a few times!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    Tyler

    Stops.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    Dysfunctional family and dark novel

    Great character development but sad story about how a person works through a difficult childhood.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    This is a very sad story yet you want to read more & you fee

    This is a very sad story yet you want to read more & you feel for Muriel while disliking the other characters. I didn't want to stop reading at night because I kept wanting happiness for Muriel. Very well written. I usually like mysteries or crime novels but very much enjoyed this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    A good read.

    Being a middle child myself, I could relate to 'Muriel'. Overall it was an
    enjoyable book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2014

    Anonymous

    I loved this book from beginning to end. I wasthe oldest in a family of nine children. While our family exoerience was different in many ways from "Two Sisters" the underlying emotional maelstrom was similar. As the oldest, I discovered as a toddler that I would never be good enough, cute enough, thin enough, anything enough to please my mother. Her entire sense of self worth depended on what people thought of her, so her children's perfection or lack thereof was critical. Ironically, in our small town, my siblings and I are some of the most highly regarded people for who we are and what we do in and with our lives. My mother succeeded in raising "good" children, nine who made everyone admire her and want to know how she did it. I'd tell them "with screaming fits and beatings and shaming and demands for perfection and constantly making her children struggle to do better, as if the one next little achievement would be what finally made her love me." Now that she is old and suffering from Alzheimers Disease, I dutifully visit her every week in the nursing home and listen to her praise me for what a "good daughter" I am and what a special person I am and how proud of me she is. Sad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2014

    Two Sisters

    The book's title, Two Sisters, "had me at hello." I was intrigued at what the author could present that could be new and interesting. And she fulfilled this task splendidly! Mary Hogan developed two fully-formed characters within a family that were polar opposites. And, of couse, Muriel was my favorite, as she was the most resilient.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    The siblings

    Stop backing away. One winnies. The other whips her mane from side to side boredly.

    0 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 19, 2014

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    Posted March 4, 2014

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    Posted June 20, 2014

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    Posted June 20, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

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