Silent Sister (Chamberlain)

The Silent Sister 
Diane Chamberlain, 2014
St. Martin's Press
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781250010711



Summary
In The Silent Sister, Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.

Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina, cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?

s Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality, in this engrossing mystery from international bestselling author Diane Chamberlain. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—1950
Where—Plainfield, New Jersey, USA
Education—B.A., M.A., San Diego State University
Awards—RITA Award
Currently—lives in North Carolina


Diane Chamberlain is the bestselling American author of some 30 novels, primarily surrounding family relationships, love, and forgiveness. Her works have been published in 20 languages. Her best-known books include The Silent Sister (2014), Necessary Lies (2013), and The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes (2006).

In her own words:
I was an insatiable reader as a child, and that fact, combined with a vivid imagination, inspired me to write. I penned a few truly terrible "novellas" at age twelve, then put fiction aside for many years as I pursued my education.

I grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent my summers at the Jersey Shore, two settings that have found their way into my novels.

In high school, my favorite authors were the unlikely combination of Victoria Holt and Sinclair Lewis. I loved Holt's flair for romantic suspense and Lewis's character studies as well as his exploration of social values, and both those authors influenced the writer I am today.

I attended Glassboro State College in New Jersey as a special education major before moving to San Diego, where I received both my bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from San Diego State University. After graduating, I worked in a couple of youth counseling agencies and then focused on medical social work, which I adored. I worked at Sharp Hospital in San Diego and Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in adolescents. I reluctantly closed my practice in 1992 when I realized that I could no longer split my time between two careers and be effective at both of them.

It was while I was working in San Diego that I started writing. I'd had a story in my mind since I was a young adolescent about a group of people living together at the Jersey Shore. While waiting for a doctor's appointment one day, I pulled out a pen and pad began putting that story on paper. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I took a class in fiction writing, but for the most part, I "learned by doing." That story, Private Relations, took me four years to complete. I sold it in 1986, but it wasn't published until 1989 (three very long years!), when it earned me the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel. Except for a brief stint writing for daytime TV (One Life to Live) and a few miscellaneous articles for newspapers and magazines, I've focused my efforts on book-length fiction and am currently working on my nineteenth novel.

My stories are often filled with mystery and suspense, and–I hope–they also tug at the emotions. Relationships – between men and women, parents and children, sisters and brothers – are always the primary focus of my books. I can't think of anything more fascinating than the way people struggle with life's trials and tribulations, both together and alone.

In the mid-nineties, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a challenging disease to live with. Although my RA is under good control with medication and I can usually type for many hours a day, I sometimes rely on voice recognition technology to get words on paper. I’m very grateful to the inventor of that software! I lived in Northern Virginia until the summer of 2005, when I moved to North Carolina, the state that inspired so many of my stories and where I live with my significant other, photographer John Pagliuca. I have three grown stepdaughters, three sons-in-law, three grandbabies, and two shelties named Keeper and Jet.

For me, the real joy of writing is having the opportunity to touch readers with my words. I hope that my stories move you in some way and give you hours of enjoyable reading. (With permission from the author's website. Retrieved 6/6/2014.)



Book Reviews
[T]he readers of this tale will be surprised and shocked by the unveiling of a truth that they will never guess up front. Chamberlain has written an excellent novel with well-thought-out plotlines that never lose the suspense lover’s interest for one solitary second.
Suspense Magazine


Chamberlain’s powerful story is a page-turner to the very end. A must for all mystery lovers and those who like reading about family struggles.
Library Journal


The Silent Sister is a powerful and thrilling novel. This tautly paced and emotionally driven novel will engross Chamberlain’s many fans as well as those who read Sandra Brown and Carla Buckley.
Booklist


After her father's sudden death, a daughter discovers disturbing facts about a sister presumed dead more than two decades earlier.... Although the plot is not exactly watertight, the revelations are parceled out so skillfully that disbelief remains suspended until the satisfying if not entirely plausible close. A compulsively readable melodrama.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. How did the false story of Lisa’s suicide influence the path Riley took in her career? How did discovering the truth change her approach?

2. On page 87, Danny tells Riley, "It’s not my mind that’s sick…It’s my soul." What does he mean by this?

3. "Her violin had gotten her through some terrible times and now, during the loneliest, scariest time of her life, she didn’t have the one thing that could calm her." Do you have something you turn to during times of hardship in a similar way?

4. How did you react to Danny’s vehement desire to see Lisa arrested? Did your  understanding or reaction change as the story unfolded?

5. On page 318, Celia says, "justice comes in many forms." What does she mean by this? Do you agree?

6. While Riley is looking for the truth about her family she isn’t always sure that she will reach out to Lisa if she is able to find her. What do you see as the turning point in her search when she makes a firm decision to contact Lisa?

7. Throughout the novel both Jeannie Lyons and Verniece Kyle lie to Riley, though with vastly different motives. Did you suspect that they were hiding something? If so, what was it that made you suspicious? What secrets did you think they were keeping, and were you surprised by the truths that Jeannie and Verniece eventually revealed?

8. In what ways do both Riley and Lisa attempt to maintain a sense of connection to family  that they have lost?

9. Both Danny and Riley express complex emotions over both the loss of Lisa and then later  the discovery that she is alive and maintaining a new identity. What conflicting emotions does Riley feel? Why? How do they compare or contrast to Danny’s feelings and the way he expresses them?

10. How did you react to Riley’s decision to move to Seattle and maintain the lie about her and Jade’s history?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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