Katie Fitzgerald's Reviews > The Sisters Club

The Sisters Club by Megan McDonald
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's review
Mar 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: genre-realistic-fiction, level-middle-grade

Ten-year-old Stevie Reel is the middle sister between near-teenager, Alex and funny, smartypants eight-year-old Joey. The girls’ parents own a local theater, and the entire family, in one way or another, has the performance bug. Whether they’re acting out King Lear in the living room, auditioning for a role in a community production, or filling in as a sister’s understudy at the last minute, the Reel girls all have a flair for the dramatic. Their club, The Sisters Club, is the forum for much of their sisterly conflict, enmity, and hilarity - and Stevie’s narration, combined with typewritten dramatic scenes from Alex and journal entries from Joey’s so-called “homework notebook” give the reader a front-row seat for every fight and gesture of kindness.

I think the best thing about this book is the way Megan McDonald writes the girls’ voices. I was shocked when I saw a review on Goodreads saying they sounded unrealistic, because I actually think Stevie, Alex, and Joey sound more like real kids than a lot of other children’s book characters. Alex perfectly straddles the line between childhood and adolescence, by harboring a secret crush on a boy, but also having nightly chats with her sock monkey. In her notebook, Joey comes alive as the quintessential little sister, taking notes and making comments on her older sisters’ lives. I will admit that the Reel parents might be somewhat less well-rounded, but it’s not their story - it’s really a story about what it means to be - and have - a sister. And as a big sister, I can admit that McDonald is dead-on about how these relationships play out.

My only real criticism of the book is that it took so long to hook me. The documents interspersed with the more traditional prose confused me a lot at the start of the novel, and it wasn’t until I got to know the characters better that I started to find these sections interesting, rather than burdensome. I could have used some more context for those items, just to help me understand how they were meant to function.

This shortcoming aside, though, this book is highly entertaining and a must-read for tweens with siblings. It’s a good one to recommend to fans of The Penderwicks who are awaiting the fourth book, and to girls who have liked any of the contemporary American Girl titles (Aloha, Kanani, McKenna, etc.). This book isn’t as timeless as The Penderwicks, or as moralistic as an American Girl title, but it shares elements of both that appeal to readers in the 8 to 11 age range. I also couldn’t help but think a little bit about Rachel Vail’s teen trilogy about the Avery sisters, which is a good YA recommendation for older kids who like The Sisters Club and are ready for a bigger challenge.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 20, 2012 – Shelved
March 20, 2012 – Shelved as: genre-realistic-fiction
March 20, 2012 – Shelved as: level-middle-grade
March 20, 2012 – Finished Reading
December 11, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2012

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