Author: Justine Larbalestier
Star Rating: 4/5
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Suspense
From the very moment Che first held his baby sister, Rosa, he loved her. It's very hard not to love a little girl with big blue doe eyes, bouncy blonde curls, and charm sweet as candy. However much people doted on her, it was Che who was the only one who'd ever understand her and what she really is.
Che's quite certain Rosa is a psychopath. That is, she lacks the human emotions that go along with empathy. Rosa finds glee in pain and suffering of others, and often struggles to adapt to the world's expectations of a ten-year-old girl. Rosa depends on Che to learn how to be "normal."
After their parents' work uproots their lives time and time again, Rosa and Che have come to know the unstable lives that come with new homes in new countries every year. Their newest abode is located in New York, to Che's chagrin. In such a large city, there's no end to the potential terror Rosa could wreak on the place. It's up to Che to put a bottle on Rosa's behavior, because his parents certainly don't subscribe to the idea of a psychopathic daughter.
“Rosa is a ticking bomb. I don’t think it matters what you call it: psychopathy, sociopathy, antisocial personality disorder, evil, or the devil within. What matters is how to prevent the bomb from exploding.”
“She promised to be good. She wasn't.”
This book has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a very long time, ever since booktuber Littlebookowl brought it to my attention. My Sister Rosa has been written by an Australian author and published by an Australian publishing house. What that trickles down to is that I, an American, have spent the past three years struggling to find a copy of this book that isn't coupled with high shipping costs. Sigh. Thankfully, an e-copy appeared in my local library, and I snatched that right up!
The wait was worth it.
This book was altogether unique from any other book I've read. The author has created suspense in an otherwise mundane and average NYC, by making this book equal parts psychologically thrilling, suspenseful, and full of herrings. It's made very clear from the beginning that the story could go absolutely any direction, and as the reader, you cannot discern where it will until it happens astonishingly.
Rosa is a character unlike any I've ever read before. I've read many a fantasy with an antagonist who probably could be diagnosed with an Antisocial Disorder themselves. None of them were so brilliant, manipulative, or so chillingly real as Rosa. My Sister Rosa places the reader in the shoes of someone who acknowledges how normal, yet how terrifying an untreated psychopathic sister could be. While in Che's shoes, you can understand how easily his sister has become such a normal fixture in his life, and you can still empathize with the true love he has for his sister as well as the creeping fear he has for her. It's so brilliantly done!
Larbelestier has mastered the art of red herrings and allusive writing. (anything could happen, and a lot of possibilities were presented. You almost can disgust yourself while reading, trying to dream up what Rosa will do next. You pick up on all of the possibilities for travesty around Rosa in such a big city. You begin to formulate scenarios and guess at her next moves. As the book goes on, you find yourself imagining increasingly more gruesome acts... then you are appalled at yourself because "she's just a 10-year-old girl. She wouldn't do that... right?" My Sister Rosa is a psychological thriller not only in the storyline itself, but also in what goes on in your own head. Absolutely. Brilliant.
I want to talk about this book all day. My head is still reeling from the ending. Alas, anymore should be left for you to experience yourself. And you really should go experience it! I loved this book. I'm almost sad I only borrowed it from the library. I will be adding it to my bookshelves soon!
Have you ever read a book that plays with your own mind the same way it does the characters'? Leave some recommendations for me!