Sisters by Daisy Johnson

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Penguin. 3. House – ocean [Public Domain] via Pixabay 4. Sad Teen Girl Portrait By D. Sharon Pruitt from Utah, USA [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Changes: cropped, colorised 5. Secret [Public Domain] via Pixabay

July and September are two teenage sisters born ten months apart who have just moved with their mother to an isolated house in the north of England. It seems they have left Oxford because of something tragic that happened there. June is the narrator and she is very disturbed. She reveals cruel and domineering behaviour of September, and their mother stays in her room, coming out only at night to avoid seeing her daughters.


“Yes. I think then, as I have so many times, she is the person I have always wanted to be.”

“When we were young, there had never really been anyone but September. I was an appendage. I was September’s sister.”

“There had been trouble back in Oxford before. I knew that sometimes I forgot where I was or sang out loud, knew that the other girls – and some of the boys – saw me doing those things and counted them as weakness.”

My opinion:

Yes, this is a very unsettling read because of the subject matter (bullying, dysfunctional families, depression grief and guilt). Nothing lighthearted here. I think the writing suited the plot (a bit disjointed and chaotic), but I found that it was overdone, making the story hard to follow at times.

The opinion of others:
  • The Guardian: “terrifically well-crafted, psychologically complex and chillingly twisted.”
  • New York Times: ““Sisters” is a gripping ordeal, a relentlessly macabre account of grief and guilt, identity and codependency, teenage girls and their mothers.”
  • Kirkus: “A subtle book that brings to bear all its author’s prodigious skill. A must-read.”
Other editions:

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