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Sister Mine: A Novel Paperback – May 6, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. O'Dell, whose debut, Back Roads (2000), was an Oprah pick, returns with a terrific third novel set in a Pennsylvania coal country of broken families, altercations and smalltown coping. Policewoman-turned-cabbie Shae-Lynn Penrose, a little over 40 and back in Jolly Mount after a rent-a-cop stint in Washington, D.C., raised son Clay (24 and the town deputy) on her own. For the past 18 years, she has believed that her sister, Shannon, was killed by their abusive father while Shae-Lynn was at college. (Their mother died of complications after giving birth to Shannon; their father was killed much later in a mine explosion.) When a New York lawyer turns up asking for Shannon Penrose, whom he seems to have seen recently, Shae-Lynn is shocked; when Shannon herself suddenly turns up, very pregnant, Shae-Lynn's reaction is primal and tactile. As O'Dell slowly unspools Shannon's very-much-of-her-own-doing predicament, O'Dell demonstrates her mastery of set-piece dialogue, reeling off stingingly acute encounters that are as funny as they can be crushingly sad. Ne'er-do-well Choker Simms (and his two kids, Fanci and Kenny), lawyer Gerald Kozlowski, mine owner Cam Jack, Shae-Lynn's nonboyfriend E.J., Shannon's sort-of-boyfriend Dmitri and others are all wonderfully drawn through Shae-Lynn's keen observations. Family saga O'Dell-style crackles with conflict and a deep understanding of the complications and burdens that follow attachment, sex, love and kinship. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Past the wordplay of the title and the cowboy boot on the jacket, this is a masterfully unfolded, absolutely engrossing story as smart and sassy as it is wise. At 40, Shae-Lynn Penrose has overcome a mostly motherless, abusive childhood and a teenage pregnancy to finish college, work for the D.C. Capitol Police, raise her son alone, and return to her coal-mining hometown of Jolly Mount, Pennsylvania. Here she runs a one-vehicle cab company; her father died in a mine; her best friend, E. J., was one of the Jolly Mount 5, whose survival after a mine explosion made headlines; and her son, Clay, is a deputy for Sheriff Ivan Zoschenko (from O'Dell'sCoal Run, 2004). Then Shannon, the younger sister Shae-Lynn thought long dead, shows up and reveals an unorthodox means of making money that's causing a ruckus. Dealing with a burgeoning love affair and revelation of parentage, plus the surviving miners' intent to sue the coal company, O'Dell also examines such issues as abuse, betrayal, abandonment, perseverance, and reconciliation, with love at the heart of it all, in crisp, insightful prose that sweeps the reader along. A knockout. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Wow, this is a difficult novel to review. I've loved O'Dell's other stories, but... I can only give this novel a 3-star rating. This one was somewhat difficult to read and so also difficult to enjoy. I was forced to go back to re-read sections thinking that I might have missed something. Usually I hadn't missed anything!? Huh?! Huh?!
This novel was not just one plot or storyline, but several stories within a story with numerous "main" characters stumbling randomly in and out of the story. And I'm not sure, but I'm thinking that O'Dell writes some of the longest, most intricate, most drawn-out, most overly-complex sentences in the history of mankind. I think there were several sentences that took up one entire page of text or more! Those long sentences were entirely readable, but... But all of the above makes for a most confusing storyline. And yet, for all that, I read the entire story and I can also say that, with some exceptions, I was mostly entertained.
I've read several of O'Dell's novels and really loved them, you might read some of my reviews. But this one....? This one seems to be just "lots-of-strange reading" instead of good or great. While reading this novel, I can't tell you how many times I questioned why the hell I continued, and yet O'Dell's writing skills and talent kept me at it instead of just tossing my Kindle into the trash!
If you want to experience some good/great writing and storytelling, read O'Dell's novel "Fragile Beasts" or perhaps one of her other novels. But unless you're just a glutton for reading confusion,....
I liked reading about the miner's as I have never know or thought of what their life's in this type of work would of been, this is a book I will remember. I have already bought more books by O'Dell.
Shae-Lynn's sister, who ran away in her early teens, resurfaces bringing with her enough trouble to keep Shae-Lynn scurrying. Having tough starts on the coal infested streets of Jolly Mount, her sister's money making abilities shock even non-pulsed Shae-Lynn. Determined to stop her sister from her destructive ways, we watch as this tough-talkin, boot stompin, sister deals with the problems that arise.
Lots of fun with action, humor and some tender moments to aid understanding. Intensely readable.