STARRED REVIEW
July 16, 2020

The Sullivan Sisters

By Kathryn Ormsbee
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The Sullivan sisters might be bound together by genetics, but they couldn’t be more different. Eileen, the eldest, harbors a family secret and a drinking problem. Claire, the high-strung middle sister, has just been inexplicably rejected by Yale. And Murphy, the baby of the family, is a natural performer who can’t seem to get any attention. Despite their father’s death at a young age and their mother’s perpetual absence from their lives, the sisters used to be close, building blanket forts and exchanging Christmas gifts, until a few years ago. Now their interactions are rife with tension. When a mysterious uncle dies and leaves the sisters property on the Oregon coast in his will, the girls embark on a trip to visit their father’s childhood home. A storm rolls in, trapping them in the creepy old house where they must confront their family’s disturbing legacy.

Shifting through each sister's point of view, The Sullivan Sisters lightly drapes a murder mystery over a story about family. Author Kathryn Ormsbee shines an honest light on her characters, introspectively revealing their pain and struggles. When the sisters’ connections to each other were broken, leaving them lacking any source of familial affection, they compensated by seeking comfort outside the bonds of family. Murphy performs magic to feel seen, Claire takes dubious life advice from an Instagram influencer, and Eileen gives up art school for alcohol. Each girl’s ship seems destined to crash on a rocky shore, with no one around to help them steer a smoother course.

The action revs up when the sisters arrive at the sleepy seaside town, and, posing as podcasters, uncover their family’s origin story from the locals. The tension between the sisters dissipates as they’re forced together into close quarters, and the reader gets swept along on their journey. The Sullivan Sisters captures the singular love that only sisters can share as the girls realize that their bond can be battered but never broken.

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The Sullivan Sisters

The Sullivan Sisters

By Kathryn Ormsbee
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781534420533

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