Friday, August 24, 2007

Sister Mine

Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell (Shaye Areheart Books, 2007)

Author Tawni O'Dell weaves an incredibly moving story in her newest book, Sister Mine. Protagonist Shae-Lynn Penrose, a former cop with a dysfunctional childhood, drives a cab in the town of Jolly Mount while dressed to the nines in miniskirts and a pink Cowboy hat. Jolly Mount is a coal mining town that has been plagued by its past - one filled with mine accidents including the highly publicized survival of the Jolly Mount Five.

Dealing with her own demons, Shae-Lynn is the town caregiver, whether it be as sole parent to her son, Clay, as confidante to her best friend and love interest E.J., or the mother to her younger sister, Shannon, who flew the coop 18 years previous. When Shannon suddenly reappears, pregnant and reticent to explain her situation, Shae-Lynn is thrown into an almost comedic series of events. She finds herself trying yet again to save her sister, only this time it's from a rich New York woman who claims to have paid for the baby, an attorney who has a sordid relationship with Shannon and a Russian who isn't afraid to fight for what he believes is his. As Shae-Lynn bravely confronts the reality of her sister's life, she is forced to also look at her own past and come to terms with a slew of family secrets that will no longer remain buried.Filled with numerous plot lines, O'Dell manages to deliver a story that makes sense; one where each plot leads to the same end - the transformation of Shae-Lynn. The use of details about coal mining and the dangers miners face add an element of truth which allows the reader to feel empathy for these men. Shae-Lynn is a woman defined by her surroundings and yet has overcome the hardships she has faced - she is a heroine. In O'Dell's skilled hands, this story is one that you will remember.

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