My entire thoughts can be summed up quite eloquently with: “WELL WOW FREAKING WOW.” This book was amazing. I had this gargantuan feeling that I would like this book because a) boxing (!!) and b) psychopaths. Brain thingies and mental thingies (I’m an eloquent grape today, peoples) are intensely fascinating. AND MY PREDICTION OF LOVE WAS NOT WRONG.
My Sister Rosa is basically about a boy whose little sister is an undiagnosed psychopath. He spends his days either boxing or trying to keep her out of trouble (since their parents are oblivious). They just moved to America when the book begins and TROUBLE ENUSES, DUDES. Also there’s tons of food because: teenage boy narrates.
And let’s have lists yes? Because lists are good.
WHY I LOVED THIS BOOK AN EXTRAORDINARY AMOUNT:
- It really explored the diagnosis of psychopathy. Although at times I felt it laid it on a liiiiittle too thick? But then not being a psychopath or knowing one, um, I can’t really pass judgement. SO YEAH. It talked about it in such detail and I found it fascinating.
- Che was a perfectly adorably creature. I LOVED CHE. He was complex and interesting and emotional and a little dorky. He always seemed brushed over by his parents, his friends, everyone. So HECK YES I go for the underdog. Also he ate all the time and had bad acne and was awkward…woah, is this like a REAL teenage boy here?! APPLAUSE.
- Talk about ADDICTIVE WRITING. Although weirdly it took me ages to read? (Normally I speed through books…) But, pfft, I didn’t even mind because I loved it all.
- I LOVED ALL THE BOXING! I, of course, do not box. I am a delicate flower and can think of better things to do than hit people. (Like ride dragons.) BUT I STILL LIKED READING ABOUT IT.
- Basically ALL the characters were amazingly written. Dimensional. Complex. Interesting. ALL THE GOOD DESCRIPTORS, THROW ‘EM ON THERE. It was a rather massive cast, too…and usually that’d leave me going “and who are you, may I inquire?” BUT NOT HERE. Plus I’d like to point out that all the main characters (apart from Che) were women. Thank you to the author. Thank you. And just a quick glimpse at them?
- Leilani: definitely my favourite. I ADORE HER. She was a fashion designer and super snarky…but venerable and nice too. She was American-Korean. Her + Che = BFF (in a well-ordered universe, anyway).
- Seimone and Maya: Leilani’s little 11-year-old sisters and Rosa’s victims of torment. Maya was more developed but I think that was the point, since Rosa had Seimone under her thumb the whole time.
- Sojourner: the love interest…she was pretty awesome. A boxer and church-goer and also African-American.
- Sally and David: Che’s parents. They were seriously not interested in their kids’ lives. Just their business. Boo.
- Rosa: of COURSE we must talk about Rosa, since she even gets the title. She’s the 10-year-old psychopath who is an absolutely adorably gorgeous charmer, and only Che recognises what a monster she is. I don’t think she acted like a 10-year-old? But then. Again. I think that’s the point.
- I was pleasantly surprised with the fair and nice representation of Christianity too! This ain’t christian-fiction, folks, don’t get me wrong. But Sojourner is a Christian and talks about God and gets Che to come to her church once. And it presents Christians as nice people who care for others…not the whole “uptight cheesy snob” that they usually are in books.
- Also…SO MUCH DIVERSITY. Che’s family came to America to work for this Korean-American family and Che’s Australian (!!) and there are African American characters and — just, gosh, A++ FOR DIVERSITY REPRESENTATION.
- Also, the plot twist?! Like…THAT PLOT TWIST?!?!? UM…AHHHHHH!H!H!HH!H. I’m reeling! It got a little slow/tedious towards the middle but that ending — KABOOM — I’m flattened. It was emotional and intense and freakishly disturbing and clever and seriously feels destroying.
BUT A FEW THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:
- I actually thought it would be MORE disturbing than it was. DOES THAT MAKE ME DISTURBING??? #mybad I honestly think the tension could’ve been higher throughout the whole novel. And while Rosa was disturbing, it did feel like Che was overreacting a lot of the time.
- And it did drag slightly. It’s a hefty sized book and not THAT much happens. But when the writing is GOOD, I’m not complaining too cantankerously. But it could’ve been more concise.
- I also ended the book rather furious at one character’s shallowness. Of which I’ll put in spoilers but I GOTTA SAY IT, PEOPLES.
- ALSO I HAVE LIKE 900000 QUESTIONS AND I WANT ANSWERS. Sequel???? Please? Okay this isn’t even a bad thing. It is a good thing. It’s on the bad list for no reason except I’m pouting that this GLORIOUS BOOK IS OVER.
This is DEFINITELY one of my favourite books of the year. It only misses the 5-star rating by a smidge because I’m a hard-to-please grapefruit apparently. SO, JUST WOW. I will be here flailing about my love for this disturbing psychologically twisting novel FOREVER. Che was beyond perfect as a narrator and the combination of boxing and new homes and psychopathy and new friendships and family was amazing. THIS BOOK IS A GIFT-WRAPPED-PRESENT-OF-AWESOME TO ME, BASICALLY.
THANK YOU TO ALLEN & UNWIN FOR THE REVIEW-COPY. My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier was published January, 2016.
Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.
Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?
My Sister Rosa will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page to the last.
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