My Sister and Other Liars is published by Thomas and Mercer on 1st May 2017 and is available to buy here
Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.
Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.
Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.
With Ruth Dugdall, you are pretty much guaranteed a strong, intelligent and emotional storyline. Her latest novel is no exception. My Sister and Other Liars is rather a brilliant mystery, with an uncomfortable dark side.
It is a story of two sisters, Sam and Jena. Sam is locked away in a mental health unit, undergoing treatment for anorexia. It is clear that she is dealing with some tough emotional baggage by refusing to eat and to see her family. She is angry. She is confused. We see her pain and hear her mixed up adolescent thought processes. Slowly she begins to open up to her psychiatrist about her past, in the hope that she will gain her freedom. The question is though what drove Sam to this? What is she refusing to acknowledge? Jena is Sam’s older sister, a woman in her twenties. Jena was brutally attacked, some eighteen months ago. This devastated the whole family. Only Sam seems to want to find out the truth behind this.
This is truly powerful stuff. The story of Sam is one that it is easy to believe in. A girl wasting away, within a psychiatric unit and a mystery surrounding her. We meet a bunch of teenage patients who want to be as thin as possible. We see the healthcare workers who are trying to make sense of these children, on the verge on life and death. No one can possibly hear about Sam and not feel compassion for her or the other girls in the unit. This is just one aspect of Sam, as we get to know her and see her inner strength and determination. Dugdall captures the small eating disorders psychiatric unit beautifully, with the almost strained and complex relationships between the mental health workers and their patients.
Check out Ruth Dugdall if you want a complete breath of fresh air from the psychological crime genre. My Sister and Other Liars was marvellous and slightly disturbing!