“Sisterly relationships are so strange in this way. The way I can be mad at Rose but still want to please her. Be terrified of her and also want to run to her. Hate her and love her, both at the same time. Maybe when it comes to sisters, boundaries are always a little bit blurry. Blurred boundaries, I think, are what sisters do best.”
Rose and Fern are fraternal twin sisters. Fern is on the spectrum and Rose is very protective of Fern and is very involved in her life. Fern relies on her sister a lot and trusts her and would do anything for her. When Rose tells Fern that she has fertility issues and isn’t able to have a kid, Fern decides she needs to help Rose have a child and all she needs to do is find a man to impregnate her.
Fern lives a structured, routine life and keeps to a schedule. When she meets Wally at the library she works in, he brings a little disruption in her life – in a good way. We start to see the relationship between the sisters from two perspectives. Fern’s, in present day and Rose’s from when they were children via her journal entries till the stories collide and meet in the present day.
“Fern always seemed to have some sort of impenetrable boundary around her that made her immune to Mum’s reign of terror. I often wondered if that boundary was part and parcel of whatever was different about Fern.”
I don’t recall how or when this was on my TBR list but it was available and I dove into it and it was really a case of right time, right book. It basically is a story about family and how perspectives can be different even in the same environment. There were many things covered in this book – learning more about sensory processing disorder (which Fern suffers from) and being on the spectrum, mental illness, abuse, boundaries and more – but it was woven in seamlessly and did not feel overwhelming. Hepworth managed to place them in the right places with the right doses.
“The library, Janet used to say, is one of only a few places in the world that one doesn’t need to believe anything or buy anything to come inside … and it is the librarian’s job to look after all those who do.”
It might seem like a little thing, but as mentioned before Fern worked in a library and seeing how much she loved her job, was good at it and was a place of solace for her, seemed like a subtle nod to us book lovers. Hepworth did a good job of character building and the library seemed like one more character that wasn’t left out. I liked how she didn’t have Fern’s autism be her one defining characteristic even if it was a big part of her life. Instead, we get to know about Fern’s love of bright colors and how bold she was.
“One thing I’ve learned about facing fear,” he says, “is that sometimes, it’s just too scary.”
I am not sure how to categorize the book. It’s definitely fiction but it had a mix of romance, [very low key] thriller in that it’s all leading up to a big secret/twist which I think was quite easy to figure out. I enjoyed the pacing of the book and all in all found it a pleasurable read. Oh and Hepworth is Australian, so the book is set in Australia. I gave the book 4 stars because the ending kinda hinted at a sequel and I think the book should be a one and done. I recommend this one!