Saturday, June 17, 2017

Review: My Sister and Other Liars - Ruth Dugdall

My Sister and Other Liars
by Ruth Dugdall
Published: May 1, 2017
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.

Free on KU

5 Stars
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Sam has been in the hospital for eighteen months, her body is shutting down, a welcome escape from the past and the memories that haunt her. Sam and the other patients are starving themselves, attempting to control their lives at any cost. Sam's past may be the cause, but also the cure. Through flashbacks we learn about Jena, Sam's elder sister, confined to a life in hospitals after an attack leaves her brain irreparably damaged. Desperate for the answer, Sam begins her own hunt for the criminal that stole her sister from her, but what she finds is only a dark room full of deceit.

"Once I tell Clive the next part of the story, he'll agree. It's not just that I'm mad, I'm bad too.
Sick to the core."

Ruth Dugdall's My Sister and Other Liars is haunting and realistic; two sisters forever changed by an event that comes to life in the flashbacks Sam shares in therapy. Told entirely from Sam's perspective, her anger at herself, at everyone around her, bleeds from the words as she revisits the awful events that lead to her starvation. Sam is a difficult character, her hostility makes her unlikable, but her true lack of control makes you desperate for her health. She's naive, too youthful for her hardened outlook and her story breaks down those around her. Sam's perspective is narrow, her will to live is slim, but Dugdall's writing shows that those around her care and have compassion. Dugdall breaks down the disease, highlighting the many roads that lead to eating disorders for not just Sam, but the secondary characters she lives in treatment with. She showcases the highs, the lows, and the progress made as Sam faces her disease, her sister's accident, her locked up memory, and the heartbreaking reality of other's sicknesses. The events leading up to her treatment begin as hazy memories, but soon Sam is desperate to reveal her discoveries she made as amateur detective. What starts as a slow read soon takes readers on a fast-paced twisted adventure, as twists and red herrings reveal some, but not all secrets. The ending is a surprise, a chilling unveiling of the real truth that readers will be unable to guess.

"I feel unlocked, like my heart is open and warm, and fluttering out are feelings and thoughts that had been frozen."

My Sister and Other Liars is a horrifying tale, it's achingly painful to read, but it is every bit deserving of the praise it has received. Ruth Dugdall tells a twisted tale of secrets and lies, enticing the reader with a plot that doesn't reveal the truth until the very end. Dark and mysterious, this psychological thriller is hard to put down. It's honest take on eating disorders and the events that psychologically break down Sam makes My Sister and Other Liars a novel I highly recommend.

About the Author
Ruth Dugdall was born in 1971. She holds a BA honours degree in English Literature (Warwick University) and an MA in Social Work (University of East Anglia). She qualified as a probation officer in 1996 and has worked in prison with offenders guilty of serious crimes, including stalking, rape and murder. This has informed her crime writing. Since she started writing, Ruth has won awards in several writing competitions, and has had short stories published in the Winchester Writers' Conference and the Eva Wiggins Award anthologies.

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