Book Chat’s rating: ∗∗∗/5
[Warning: Some spoiler]
Cassie and Sid Sunday are two Ohio-native sisters growing up together with opposite personalities. Despite being close to each other during childhood, after Sid had her first son out of wedlock and Cassie began college, they grew apart. Their sisterhood gradually reduced to family get-together during major holidays. Determined to be in each other’s life again, Cassie and Sid, who now lives in Singapore with her expat husband and two children, decided to start a journey of penpal-ing. Everything seems to go as planned until all the letters accidentally appeared on Cassie’s blog and sent their lives (mostly Cassie’s) into a roller coaster of emotions, especially forces her to re-evaluate the life she has built with her husband Leo.
I love the first half of this book. The letters between them felt very real. They talked about their current and past lives. Along with Cassie’s narration in between the letters, we learned about the events that drove them apart. But really, they weren’t estranged like the sypnosis made it out to be. My sisters also live on different continents, so I can relate to that: Lisa Beazley really succeeded in her portrait of the relationship, in which you want to tell each other everything, but then you can’t because they really aren’t there to know this or that person you want to talk about. The letters were well written with slightly different tones make it believable that they were written from two different views.
Cassie’s life in New York reminded me of another book I’m reading, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and a book I’ve read a while ago, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Perhaps all three authors are writers, so their (debut) books are about people of similar profession, but it really makes me question the life in New York: Is everyone in New York a writer and/or something related to publishing industry? Truth is, being a writer in a cosmopolitan city is one of the best occupations one can achieve, no-wonder she missed her working life while staying at home caring for the two twin boys. Meanwhile, Sid’s life in Singapore wasn’t any better. Sid settled in as one of the expat’s wife. Singapore is a lot more westernized than other Southeast Asian countries, and they speak English, so it surprised me to learn that she was locked into a life of a tag-along wife. I admit I have not stay in Singapore long enough to understand their laws and cultures, but to have an official coming to your home to deport you immediately is quite unbelievable, shouldn’t there be a process and a grace period for people to pack? I must read The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee to see how expat lives are perceived by other writer.
The second half of the book when all the letters are up on the internet for all to read and comment was not the best writing in term of character and event development. I dislike all of Cassie’s action in response to the event. Her priorities aren’t right in my opinion, how could she worry about everyone else’ thoughts why her husband is the one that was hurt the most in the even? Her “romantic” letter to Leo was superficial and came across as insincere (he was the last person she talked to about the problem, especially when it involved him the most!). Then the whole ending rushed to become a fairy tale book, which was too cliché for me to fully consider giving this book anything more than average 3.
I received this book from Goodreads Giveaway.