All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever? Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows. But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family. As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.
Sister Dear by Laura McNeill has a great cover a great picture, and a great story about Allie, who is a mother convicted of a crime she swears she didn’t commit. (Haven’t we all heard that one before?) Anyway, after spending 10 years in jail, Allie returns to her small town hoping to pick up the pieces of her life and re-establish a relationship with her now 15-year old daughter. Allie struggles to fall in place, to fit back in living her former life with her family, with friends and at work. In order to try and reconnect and form a relationship with her daughter, Allie becomes determined to find out what really happened that tragic night and wants to clear her name.
Sister Dear seemed to start off a little slow and I was little worried that I wasn’t going to enjoy the book, but slowly the plot got going and just kept building and building until the very last page. I really enjoyed the writing style – sort of “flashback” style – going between 2006 and 2016 – through the eyes of various people, including Allie, Sheriff Gaines, Emma (Allie’s sister) and Caroline (Allie’s daughter). Using the multiple points of view and weaving back and forth through time, Sister Dear painted a haunting picture of lies, betrayals and deep dark secrets.
The author, McNeill, definitely left me guessing about everyone’s involvement in “the incident,” including Allie’s own involvement. I loved the plot twists, and I will admit I didn’t see them coming. It wasn’t one of those predictable plots where you knew what was happening next, and I really appreciated that. I don’t want to write a spoiler here, so I really can’t go into too much of the story. Suffice it to say, it’s worth reading Sister Dear to learn the whole story! On one of those 1 to 5 star ratings, with 5 being highest, I’d give this book a 4.2. I’ll definitely be watching for future works of Laura McNeill and I’m going to head back and read her debut book, Center of Gravity too!
After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Laura’s debut domestic suspense novel with HarperCollins, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, Ala., was published in July of 2015. Her next domestic suspense novel, Sister Dear, released on April 19, 2016.
She holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is currently pursuing her PhD in Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama. She now lives in North Alabama.
I received a paperback copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.