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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  408 ratings  ·  44 reviews
"When my brother disappeared in 1984, I began to see myself in the third person as if my life were a story being told to someone else."
Abigail Schiller lives a seemingly normal childhood in a rural Catholic commuinity in Wisconsin. But that life is shattered when her younger brother, Sam, vanishes at the age of seventeen, fleeing their father's rigid rules of masculinity...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 1997 by Harper Perennial (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 749)
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Amanda Birdwell
I recommended this book to my mom, who has one of the most crystalline and ruthless literary-bullshit-detectors I have ever seen, although, to be fair, you see very few bullshit detectors as an English major. I really just can't think or say enough about Ansay - a book like this makes me happy I learned to read, the way a film like Precious makes me happy that movies exist, because I leave each more aware of the infinite complexity of other people's lives. I feel like being aware of this -- of a...more
Cait S
This was an incredibly frustrating read for me. It started off with a lot of promise and for the first few chapters, it had me. But then...

Isn't it terrible when you can't put your finger on why something didn't work for you? I think for me it was because the summary of this book talked about a girl, all grown up, going back home to find her lost brother. And the book itself was...not about that at all. It meticulously goes over her childhood, hops, skips, and jumps around about a year of her ac...more
A number of years ago, I read a lovely book, called River Angel, by A. Manette Ansay. I had never heard of this author, had just chosen the book at random from the library. I picked up this one, Sister, because it was by the same author. However, I found it boring & essentially just skimmed the last half of the book. Disappointing.
What a horrible little book. The plot is jumpy and structureless and the main character is weak and unlikable.

This novel is centered around the disappearance of the main character's younger brother when the siblings were teenagers. I usually like crime and mystery novels but I was unable to connect to the characters or the plot. Skip this one!
Read on the heels of several other depressing books, this was not particularly what I was interested in reading at the time, so it might deserve more than the 2.5 stars I wanted to give it. I found the writing a little too matter-of-fact about events without any sense that Abby was gaining any insight from her reflections. I felt that certainly as an adult I knew very little about her but did not particularly have a sense that I would like her or that she would be a good wife or mother. As a chi...more
As usual, A. Manette Ansay did not disappoint. This was another great book, even though it was very sad. She has such an incredible gift of words. I've read some of her other books and have loved them all.
This is a solid 3.5 stars for me. I had a hard time getting into it but once I did, i liked it. I really liked the writing and felt it was honest and real. What is amazing to me is the pain some people can write about that feels almost "normal." This family was obviously disturbed in so many ways that it's no real surprise that the younger brother "ran away" repeatedly only to finally disappear when he was 17. The incredible thing is the sister did no run away. I have to admit, after the serious...more
Ansay is one of my favorite authors so when I saw this title, I bought it. Yes, some would say the plots of her novels are depressing, but to me, they are simply real. She writes about real life written in spectacular prose. Is her writing style for everyone? Absolutely not. It's a brutally honest style that I personally can relate to.

She's not an author that you can read back-to-back and expect to be in a jolly-good mood. You do have to take some time off in-between reads, but i am looking forw...more
Ansay's writing, typically set in Wisconsin, always has a deep sense of loss associated to it. "Sister" is no different. Set in the farmlands of Wisconsin, a brother and sister grow up with a father whose rules and ridgeness scar them both - deeper than their mother chooses to recognize.

My favorite lines were found at the end: The ability to believe. The ability to see beyond the place where you are. Do you understand how important that is?" I'm learning...
This book by the author of Midnight Champagne tells the story of a woman still coming to terms with her childhood and the disappearance of her younger brother when he was 17. Pregnant with her first child, Abby explores her past, discovering truths about her family that she had hidden from herself. The story is told in flashbacks, bouncing back and forth between different stages of her childhood and the present. This was a poignant tale that drew me in.
A pretty quick read, but a very good portrait of a mid-western Catholic family and how growing up with strictly enforced stereotypes and a strongly religious background affect a brother and sister. The brother disappears as a teenager, and the sister is left to deal with the guilt of wondering what happened to him and how their parents influenced each of them in different ways.
Kristin Runyon
I liked the writing, which is good because I bought two or three books by the same author without having read anything by her. It didn't have a neat nor a happy ending, but it was realistic. Other reviews mention how depressing the story is, but the plot was clearly described on the back so I chose too read it when I was prepared for sad.
I am struggling to finish this disturbing, heart-breaking (please let it be) fiction. ....and I know it's not purely fiction, I know kids are growing up in the kind of households the author describes but, damn, story is very hard on the heart and mind.

~~~~~ Finished. Four stars because at least twice the writing was stunning but damn! that was a hard story to swallow.
A touching book, and disturbing- in a good way- because there is no concrete resolution. Very lifelike.

More important, the author's characterization is just superb. I loved getting into her protagonist's head, and the problems she faced (and how she faced them) seemed heartwrenching, yet realistic, too, and not over the top. Kudos.
I've wanted to read this for a couple years now (LOVED "Vinegar Hill"), but my attention span is shot right now so I largely skimmed to the good parts. Even doing that, I enjoyed the story (love those dysfunctional families; make me feel so much better about the one I grew up in). Maybe I'll revisit when I'm more focused.
I really was not all that impressed with this book. It was slow, jumpy, and depressing. Although, the worst part was the weak main character. I never quite connected to her. I thought she was fairly two-dimensional. It made it difficult to truly throw myself into the story.
Sep 11, 2008 Alice added it
I reread this book after reading Ansay's memoir, to compare her life to her fiction. Her writing is as powerful as I remembered, and, although the world she describes is a bit bleak, somehow the beauty and clarity of the writing helps us to move beyond the dark shadows.
I really like Ansay's writings, especially Sister and Midnight Champagne. Her writing is straight forward, but not too simplistic. It keeps your attention. It is a fairly easy read, but when you are finished, you realize you just read a really great book.
Ruth Vanderhart
I really didn't like this book. Dark, depressing, relentlessly heavy and hopeless. I'd normally give it a 2, but the writing is really good. Not good enough to redeem the book though--or make me like the main character!
This book was very engaging and even though it skipped from present to past it was done so well that the book didn't feel choppy at all. A little on the heavy side but otherwise an enjoyable read.
This book has too much abuse in it to suit me. This author writes about dysfunction in many of her books. If you can get past that, you'll enjoy her writing. It is an interesting story however.
Jennifer W
A good story about how tragedy can change a family. While there was a lot of talk of God and faith, it wasn't preachy, so I'm fine with that. Overall, it was like Jodi Picoult-lite.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A woman is influenced by the disappearance of her brother when she was younger. A sad story that asks you to reflect on how much your family influences who you are. Religion too.
Sister is a heartbreaking story of a brother and sister caught in a home with a father who bullies and is violent. How can the children be kept safe? Must one be be sacrificed?
Kay Baird
This book is about losing faith... not just in a religion, but in the whole way you were brought up. About the possibility of finding another kind of faith.
Not a bad book, just nothing very memorable. Maybe becuase I read it at the airport, with all the distractions happening there.
Jun 29, 2012 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ellen Jensen
This author is excellent at creating very real characters and conveying vivid emotion. I would give this 3.5 stars.
Kari Bloom
I really loved this book - beautiful writing, and a story that really made you care about the characters.
Sep 10, 2007 T rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
A quiet and sad book, but ultimately hopeful. Family dysfunction seems to be a theme in Ansay's novels.
I could of renewed and finished it but this just did not do it for my "book likey".

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A. Manette Ansay grew up in Wisconsin among 67 cousins and over 200 second cousins. She is the author of six novels, including Good Things I Wish You (July, 2009), Vinegar Hill, an Oprah Book Club Selection, and Midnight Champagne, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as a short story collection, Read This and Tell Me What It Says, and a memoir, Limbo. Her awards include...more
More about A. Manette Ansay...
Vinegar Hill  Blue Water Midnight Champagne Good Things I Wish You River Angel

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