Two Sisters: A Novel

Two Sisters: A Novel

3.8 25
by Mary Hogan
     
 

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Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

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

Overview

Mary Hogan’s powerful and poignant debut novel about two sisters—opposites in every way—plus their mother and the secrets and lies that define them all.

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 blonde 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.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/15/2014
Muriel Sullivant has always been a disappointment to her family. The youngest of three children, she can't compete with sister Pia, especially when it comes to their mother's love. Pia is everything Muriel isn't: thin, beautiful, married, religious. A 23-year-old casting assistant in New York, Muriel tries to avoid her family. She's successful until Pia pops by and confesses an awful secret. She has cancer and forbids Muriel to tell their mother. Muriel's a pro when it comes to keeping family secrets, but eventually their mother finds out the truth, turning Muriel's already ugly relationship with her even uglier. Making her adult fiction debut, Hogan, the author of seven YA novels, shows such insight into how cancer affects not only the patient but the family as well that it's not surprising to discover she has personal experience with the disease. Although the slow pacing in the novel's first half is troublesome and the alternating points of view can be jarring, ultimately this is a hopeful novel with some genuinely surprising moments; even the rushed ending manages to satisfy. VERDICT Readers touched by cancer and book clubs that enjoy discussing family issues may find this title particularly appealing.—Amy Stenftenagel, Washington Cty. Lib. Syst., Forest Lake, MN
Booklist
“Book clubs will find much to discuss in this fraught, fascinating family drama.”
Fitness magazine
“Readers will dig the dramatic twists and sibling rivarly at the heart of Mary Hogan’s Two Sisters.”
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.”
New York Journal of Books
“Gripping and thought provoking, Two Sisters digs deep into emotions getting to the heart of family dynamics.”
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.”
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.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062279941
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/04/2014
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,874
File size:
1 MB

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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Two Sisters 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
JeannieWalker More than 1 year ago
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.
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A tale about family, deceit, love, loss, and becoming a person. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even the author admits she wrote the storyline while personally sandwiched between the deaths of two family members; it reads as such. Her mockery of the Christian faith bleeds through her writing, as does her not- so-subtle attempts to tie the dysfunctions of this family to a belief in Christ. Her requisite inclusion of a potential lesbian relationship is all too cliched. Nothing uplifting, nor earth shattering to recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The writing was excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a middle child myself, I could relate to 'Muriel'. Overall it was an enjoyable book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Certainly not the worst book I ever read, but not the best, either. Reading this book is stepping into family dysfunction at its best. I was motivated to keep reading by hints of the main character's self-awareness. Just when I was appreciating her self-discovery, the book waa over. If the reader goes into this reading experience knowing it is the tale of a journey of self-discovery, I would neither encourage nor discourage someone from reading this book.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Great read
Anonymous 6 months ago
The only save - Muriel was coming to herself. Negative christian outlook a downer. Lidia was the devil incarnate. Don't plan to read any more by this person.
Anonymous 6 months ago
My good deed for the day Granny B.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Sad but keeps you interested.
TeacherWriter 11 months ago
If you have siblings, if you've ever had a conflict in your family, or if you have ever tried hard to meet someone else's expectations, this story will hold something for you. Elegantly written, this novel had me spellbound from the first chapter. Muriel is the black sheep of what passes for a family. She does her best to cope through denial, then through trying to piece things together with her family members. The narration switches from present to past and back, giving the reader a full experience of the divergent personalities and what came before the present crisis. Two Sisters is written beautifully. It's one of those books of which I want to sop up every last word and phrase like a piece of bread on a plate of gravy. I hated to see it end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very enjoyable read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great character development but sad story about how a person works through a difficult childhood.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stops.