Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Other Sister by S.T. Underdahl

I recently had the pleasure of “meeting” author Susan Thompson Underdahl on Adoption Writers. In addition to being a wife and mother, Susan is also an adoptee and a neuropsychologist. Susan has used her experience as an adopted child who has had the opportunity of reuniting with her birth family to write this book……

The Other Sister is the story of Josey Muller, a high-school girl whose main focus in life is getting good grades, hanging out with her two best friends, and dreaming of that cute, untouchable guy at school that all the girls have a crush on. Then, one day, things change for Josey. Her mother tells her something that she never imagined she would hear; Josey has a sister! Josey’s parents made some mistakes in high school that resulted in the birth of their first daughter; both sets of parents insisted that the baby be given up for adoption. Though Josey and her two brothers knew nothing of this older sibling, her parents never lived through a day without thoughts of their first child, where she was, and what she was doing.

Josey’s mother gets a call from a social worker, telling her that her first daughter is searching for her and would like to meet her. Audrey (the “other sister”) is 25 years old, looks much like Josey, and even shares many of the same interests and career goals. The book cycles through Josey’s response to the entire situation- starting with nonchalance, working through fear and resentment, and ending with joy and happiness.

Susan has certainly done a fantastic job of making the characters in her book very real. It’s been awhile since my teen years, but I felt very drawn in and quickly became a teenager all over again while reading this book. The character of Josey had thoughts and feelings much like any other teen girl these days. The issues that she dealt with, both at school and in her family, were true-to-life.

This book was a refreshing read for me. Adoption is a topic very near and dear to my heart. I’ve had the opportunity of reading many adoption-related books for adults and young children, but the teen market is very sparse in this area. Susan has taken her life experiences (she, herself, being The Other Sister- Audrey) and woven them into a story that most teen girls will really enjoy reading (whether their lives have been touched by adoption or not).

Note: Unlike most of the books that I have reviewed in the past, this book is not written from a Christian perspective. Other than a few brief references to inappropriate behavior (by Josey’s older brother) and the fact that Josey’s mother is a heavy smoker, I didn’t find anything offensive in the book.

Laura Christianson wrote: “I predict a ‘made for TV’ movie in this novel’s future.” I agree! I look forward to more reading more of Susan’s books in the future!

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