Title: The Secret Sister
Author: Fotini Tsalikoglou
First Published: Jan 2015
Published By: Europa Editions
Format Read: Trade Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Cultural
Read: Jan 27 2015
(Image from Goodreads)
I was sent this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Originally written in Greek, The Secret Sister is about how family secrets can effect different generations in a family. Beginning in present day New York, a man boards a plane to Athens, Greece in order to learn more about his ancestry. The book is written in a way that I can only describe as a reflective conversation with the Jonathan (the man’s) younger sister Amalia. Although she isn’t with him on the flight, they recall their childhood being raised by their alcoholic mother and Greek grandparents. At a young age Jonathan and Amalia learn about a family secret that has effected every aspect of their lives: their Grandmother’s sister Frosso, was the first wife of their Grandfather.
After reading the first 20 (or so) pages, I was so confused by the style of writing that I had to start the book all over again. This time I decided to write notes as I read along, to better understand the plot and the characters. Even though it was only 128 pages long, it was hard to keep track of the current time period, as readers are taken from present day (2013), the 1990’s and back to pre-WWII Greece, often in the same paragraph.
As I mentioned in the beginning on my review I was sent this book from the publisher, after winning a giveaway on GoodReads. From the description on that website I assumed that the book would really give a detailed back story about the hardships Grandmother Erasmia and her sister Frosso, faced as young orphaned refuges in Greece. However it was more of brief details about this time period that Jonathan learns throughout his childhood and early adulthood. The GoodReads description also mentions Jonathan’s journey to Greece, which I took to assume that he would discover more family secrets while there. This too wasn’t the case, as the entire book spans his plane ride there.
Once I completed the book, I felt that I needed some time to reflect before attempting a review. I glad I decided to do this because it allowed me the chance to consider the big picture and to better understand the point of the story. However I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters.
Although this book wasn’t exactly for me, I would recommend this to those who are interested in family psychology, as I think it would make for an interesting analysis and discussion. The length of this book would also be ideal for Read-a-Thons.