Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Sister Split

Desombre, Auriane. The Sister Split
March 14th 2023 by Delacorte 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Autumn is looking forward to a great summer in New York City, since she and her best friend Saskia are finally going to be allowed to roam around a bit. They have a long list of things to do, including checking out a large number of pizza and ice cream places. Unfortunately, these plans are scuttled when her mother announces that she and the man she has been dating for several years, Harrison (whom Autumn calls "Harristinks"), are getting married. As if that weren't bad enough, Autumn and her brother George, who is starting college soon, are expected to move to a "random town" in wilds of Connecticut and live with Harrison and his daughter, Linnea. Linnea is annoyingly quiet and nice to Autumn, making a welcome sign for their shared room and wanting to forge a relationship with her new sister. Autumn and Saskia formulate a plan to destroy her mother's relationship so that the family can move back to New York. This starts with Saskia calling the moving company and redirecting the truck, continues with attempts to ruin date nights, and includes daily annoyances like Autumn giving Harrison sugar instead of salt when he is cooking and ruining the food. None of these things seem to deter the couple, who continue planning the wedding even though Autumn tries to give her mother the most ridiculous dress in the bridal boutique. (N.B. This would not be hard. Wedding dresses in 2023 are almost all ridiculous.) Autumn misses Saskia desperately, and the two stay in countact, although Saskia continues to have a life and enjoy her summer with Autum, and even makes new friends. Autumn starts to realize, after hanging out with Linnea and her friends, that she might have a crush on Saskia. She seeks advice from an older teen, Dana, who has a girlfriend, but isn't sure how to tell her mother. After accidentally breaking Harrison's telescope, Autumn hears him telling her mother that they need to get rid of her, and the mother agrees. Will Autumn be able to stop the wedding in time?
Strengths: I loved that Harrison and Linnea are depicted in such a positive light, even when seen through Autumn's red haze of anger and disappointment. Linnea especially was great, and went out of her way to include Autumn with her friends, show her around town, and make her comfortable at home. The details about wedding planning will appeal to some readers. Autumn's relationship with Saskia is interesting; while there are a growing number of books where girls like other girls, I can't think of any where the crush in question is a best friend who reciprocates the feeling. 
Weaknesses: The original The Parent Trap movie came out in 1961.  While I'm sure young people have emotions similar to Autumn's when their parents want to get remarried, Autumn's actions are a bit disturbing. Redirecting the movers just puts the movers out more than anything. 
What I really think: Readers who want stories about blended families and who enjoyed Palmer's Love You Like a Sister, Payne's The Thing About Leftovers, Homzie's Apple Pie Promises, and Knisley's Stepping Stones will enjoy this tale of a girl struggling with a new family situation. I preferred Zarr's A Song Called Home, but young readers will think Autumn's actions are more justified than I did. 

Ms. Yingling

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