Title: The Sister’s Chase
Author: Sarah Healey
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
A gripping novel about two sisters who are left homeless by their mother’s death and the lengths the fierce older sister will go to protect her beloved young charge
The hardscrabble Chase women—Mary, Hannah, and their mother Diane—have been eking out a living running a tiny seaside motel that has been in the family for generations, inviting trouble into their lives for just as long. Eighteen-year-old Mary Chase is a force of nature: passionate, beautiful, and free-spirited. Her much younger sister, Hannah, whom Mary affectionately calls “Bunny,” is imaginative, her head full of the stories of princesses and adventures that Mary tells to give her a safe emotional place in the middle of their troubled world.
But when Diane dies in a car accident, Mary discovers the motel is worth less than the back taxes they owe. With few options, Mary’s finely tuned instincts for survival kick in. As the sisters begin a cross-country journey in search of a better life, she will stop at nothing to protect Hannah. But Mary wants to protect herself, too, for the secrets she promised she would never tell—but now may be forced to reveal—hold the weight of unbearable loss. Vivid and suspenseful, The Sisters Chase is a whirlwind page-turner about the extreme lengths one family will go to find—and hold onto—love.
The Sister’s Chase is a beautifully written, absorbing novel about family, friendship and loyalty in c.1980’s America. Sisters Mary and Hannah have lost their mum in a car accident and there starts a lift of responsibility for Mary in looking after young Hannah whilst making her own mistakes in life. She is, after all, only a young adult herself, but she has so much responsibility on her shoulders.
Mary is what I’d imagine to be a ‘marmite’ character – you’ll either like and/or respect her fierce protection of Hannah and the lengths she’ll go to, to try and keep their heads above water financially, or you’ll hate her for the way she treats other people. Either way, I personally thought her often controversial behaviour to make for a really interesting read and added an element of danger to the story – when will her often dodgy behaviour have its repercussions for both sisters?
The story jumps around back and forwards in time, with some of the story focussed on time when their mother Diane was still alive (and this goes some way to explaining why Mary is the way she is and offers more context to the story) and another narrative portraying the ‘present day’. It’s easy to tell which narrative we’re reading as the chapters are marked with dates, so this avoids any potential confusion that some readers tend to dislike with this kind of narrative structure.
This is a fairly easy read, though not simple in its writing style – the sentences flow really well and the slow reveal of certain ‘secrets’ and elements kept me intrigued whilst also stopping the story from feeling like it wasn’t going anywhere (something that I often really dislike; some parts of this novel felt like it started to go this way for me, but the author soon pulled it back beautifully).
The sisters’ story here is heart-warming at times and poignant at others; you sort of feel like you’re missing something, that something is a little skewed… the skill of Sarah Healey’s writing means that, even in parts where it doesn’t feel like you’re really learning anything, you still want to keep reading.