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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  653 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Samantha―the fashionable wife of a successful businessman and doting mother of one―struggles to negotiate the spheres of intimacy between her husband and her family of origin. Samantha loves her husband, Richard, and she loves her sister, Elizabeth. But the two of them can barely exist in the same room, which has caused the entire family years of emotional distress. Yet it ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by She Writes Press
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  653 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)
3.5 stars rounded up

Samantha is married to a successful Boston businessman, Richard. Her sister, Elizabeth, is married to a successful real estate developer, Jake. Samantha and Elizabeth are attached at the hip (figuratively speaking). Since Jake, Samantha and Elizabeth grew up together, they are very close. Richard feels like an outsider and disengages from Samantha’s family: resulting in a long winded, passive aggressive turned direct family feud. They would probably make an interesting storyl
Lynda Kelly
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yayyyyy, I got to finish this story reading the revised version and I'm so pleased the author went the extra mile to ensure her publisher sent over the revised version.
It's a pretty harrowing read and did leave me teary-eyed a few times. The hourglass analogy was a particularly stark one for me. A terribly sad subject and I did learn a lot......there's also a great deal of Jewish words and customs. I had to keep looking these up as I wasn't familiar with them all, asid
Jeanne Blasberg
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This a realistic portrayal of conflicting loyalties. When women play so many roles and aim to please - not easy. I loved this novel for tackling modern challenges so well, not to mention grief. It’s the type of book that keeps you turning the page to see how Samantha copes with something not far flung, but all too familiar.
Candy Altman
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very strong character development and realistic dialogue make this a very good read. I became invested in the present and future of each person in the book. Family drama, love, loss, redemption, and a strong central character. This book has all of that and has you rooting for the protagonist throughout. Great first novel by Sondra Helene.
Meri Bennett
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was beyond heartfelt in so many ways. The beautiful bond and relationship between two sisters, the devastation of loss, disappointments and shortcomings of those that are supposed to be family. The reality and truth parallels so many peoples lives. I can relate to it all. So well written. It is a detailed book and hope there's another to follow. ...more
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read the entire book in one day, which is quite unusual for me. It is beautifully written and very moving. I have never experienced the kind of family closeness that Samantha has, so I can't say for sure how I would react in the same situation. It made me think. ...more
Daniela Sciortino Ariano
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a great story that explores family & marriage dynamic. It takes a lot for a book to bring me to tears, but this story did so effortlessly.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. So heartfelt and so honest. It takes a brave and talented writer to pull off this page turner !
Donna Hines
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Conflicting loyalties, family torn, a marriage irretrievably broken, a sister's death, a families pain on full display, and the children are left somewhere in the middle of it all.
Wow! This is a whole chock full of nuts but also pain as a young woman in her prime loses her life to cancer while the family breaks apart but can they mend their broken hearts and find forgiveness?
Ultimately that's what lies at the end of this emotionally moving piece by Sondra Helene. The fact that we all face battle
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to BookSparks for sending me a copy!

In all honesty, I was bored with this story till about chapter 15. By that point, I WAS SUCKED IN!

From the synopsis alone, I knew it was going to be sad. After really getting invested in the characters and complicated relationships it’s both sad, real and endearing.

When I just started reading this, my feelings for the husband, Richard, was anger and confusion. As the book progressed, I understood why and I, along with Samantha discovered that their
Aimee Ann
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Appearances: A Novel is an incredible book that captivated me from start to finish and had me thinking of it for a long time upon completion. Appearances was a delight to read and an incredibly memorable one that will captivate you with its compelling story and extraordinary characters. The story is heart-wrenching at times thanks to the struggles of some characters, while at other times it is inspiring as well as eye-opening and throughout it, you will undoubtedly feel a host of different emoti ...more
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, fiction
This drew me in completely because of the sibling relationship. I have 4 sisters and a brother and kept thinking, “what would I do in this situation?” I can’t imagine my husband not liking them and asking me to talk to any of them less or see them less often. I felt badly for Samantha at first then started to see Richard’s side as the book went on. A great read that brought me to tears, a rarity. Worth the read.
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
a gripping story that you won't want to put down. It made me laugh, wonder, and cry. ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, arc, booksparks
Samantha is married to a successful businessman named Richard and is extremely close with her family. Especially her sister, Elizabeth, and her sister's husband, Jake, who is a real estate developer. While getting his feet off the ground Jake calls in a few favors to Richard which end up going wrong and causes tension between the two and by extension, Elizabeth. Richard begins to feel like an outsider in Samantha's family.

But when Elizabeth is diagnosed with lung cancer Samantha finds herself ca
Carole Mckee
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

That is the best description for this book. Powerful and emotional. Samantha has a very close family and they share everything. She is especially close to her sister, Elizabeth. When she married Richard, he tries to break the pattern of constant phone calls and visits, putting a strain on the marriage and driving a wedge between him and her family. When Elizabeth gets sick, the stress gets unbearable. Samantha is torn. There are many emotional pages that brought tears, and I couldn't put
Mildred Bromberg
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ruth Steinberg
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Appearances gripped me right from the beginning. I loved the closeness of the two sisters Samantha and Elizabeth. I could feel the heartbreak of the whole family when Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer. The story is poignant about love and loss and the importance of family. The writing is vivid and Sondra Helene takes the reader as if we are experiencing things ourselves. I highly recommend Appearances.
Isabel Jolie
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book-well written and thought provoking

Great debut novel. Reads like an autobiography and gives tremendous insight into how a marriage can unravel, and how it is so true that so often, blame doesn’t fall on only one partner’s shoulders. The issues between family and spouse struck a chord with me. Her sister’s battle with cancer reads real, through the sickness and how family and loved ones also join the battlefront.
Fern Hammer
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Page Turner! This is a realistic view of family dynamics and what happens when friction causes stress in families. It is also a story of a marriage and of two sisters who have an incredible bond. I couldn’t put it down. I loved all the main characters and found them all very relatable. Appearances shows us that what appears to be happening on the outside isn’t necessarily what goes on in the inside. Anyone can relate. This could be a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu show or Lifetime movie.
Pat Oatman
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Too close and yet, not close enough

A story of deep love and compassion. The characters are well developed. The complex story is a wonderful offering for a first novel. I enjoyed reading this, I felt the sadness and the hope. I'm sure there will be many more good books in her future.
Phyllis Chase
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great read! I couldn’t put Appearances down and read it in two days. It’s about sisterly love, marital issues and family drama. It’s beautifully written and makes the reader want to turn the page. The protagonist exudes compassionate strength in the midst of conflicting loyalties. I highly recommend this novel.
Dee Dee
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I love the way this book has touched me! The author is fantastic in the way she seems to hit exactly on my feelings. I have a close relationship with my sister too. We are only 13 months apart and I feel like we are each part of the other. What a terrible journey to have to take; there is truly only acceptance. I am incredibly moved by this fine novel.
Kelly Pati
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heart-wrenching beautifully written novel. I really loved Samantha's character and was surprised at how much I identified with the family conflict and tension. There was so much emotion in this story and it was so moving. I highly recommend it.

This audiobook was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.
Shelley Blanton-Stroud
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this novel as an audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed lingering in the world Sondra Helene describes. Her subject matter is endlessly interesting--the competing attachments of biological and chosen family. The different kinds of love Samantha is called to tend. If love and attachment and obligation are topics that interest you, you'll love this audiobook. ...more
Deborah Burns
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Appearances appeared and I could not put it down. Layered with the complexities of human relationships, this is a delicate book, a fine read. Appearances takes you by the hand and pulls you into the dynamic of an intimate family circle. You won't want it to end. ...more
Dolores DeLarwelle

This writer must be Jewish or have strong influence of members of that faith. Very moving story, I found the cancer and medical information very informative. The sister connection for this generation, not believable. Overall interesting.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I am glad I had a box of tissues next to me. I used quite a few. I recommend reading this book but I would have liked to see a more complete ending. There were also some editing mistakes that were missed. This is a wonderful book and worth reading!
Aimee Rekoske
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartfelt and deep

This was rugged at my heart. I can’t imagine losing my sister or going through the things Samantha did. I did find the editing errors a little distracting. Spaces where they shouldn’t be, a whole paragraph repeated.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First book good

For a.first book this was very good. I enjoyed how she developed the plot and kept it moving. I wouldn't mind a sequel with the storyline developing with the children.
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am very close to my sister. I can feel for Samantha and Elizabeth. I couldn’t relate to Richard. Jake loved Elizabeth and coped the best he could. Appearances is a realistic and powerful book about family and marriage. I highly recommend it.
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