I've read a couple of books lately that weave a story around the relationship between sisters, and I find that the authors -- who are all women -- have the same essential emotions as parts of that relationship: love, protectiveness, competition, comparison, anger, jealousy, yes and even hate. Of course these feelings are common to all relationships, and not exclusive to sisters, but definitely any sibling bond approaches and experiences them uniquely. Growing up together especially both seals and tests that bond and I would say it is also affected by how close they are to each other in age and stage of life. Very often, it seems, sisters strive to be DIFFERENT from each other and thus it is almost a cliche that one sister will be the "responsible one" and the other will be headstrong and adventurous.
In this debut novel, Katie and Mia are those sisters. Katie is the elder and falls into her role as the good student, helpful daughter, efficient employee, lucky fiancee while Mia seems directionless and suddenly gets the urge to experience a bohemian lifestyle and travel with her best male friend, Finn, soon after their mother's death. When Katie gets the news that Mia has died in Bali, apparently a suicide, she steps out of character, chucks her job and leaves her fiance, Ed, to use Mia's journal as her own travel guide. She follows in Mia's footsteps as she reads the journal entries seeking to discover why Mia would take her own life. Although I found this to be fairly implausible and rife with some unbelievable coincidences to advance the story, the journey Katie takes leads her to self-discovery as Mia's thoughts and revelations soothe, shock, and surprise. Mia's complicated life is told through the diary as well as with flashbacks of both Katie and Mia's past and in both points of view. Katie's experiences while retracing her sister's path help her see their relationship much more clearly and lead to an understanding of her sister and herself.
I found both characters (Katie and Mia) interesting but the males in the novel less so. The first part of the book drug a bit but picked up with incredible speed after the halfway point. It would make a great vacation book and I suggest you just suspend any disbelief and enjoy the trip! It definitely gave me the travel bug as the descriptions of the places the girls visited were amazingly enticing and I could almost smell the salt tinged air and feel the sea spray on my face! I love the ocean and could imagine the pounding surf against the cliffs and see the tides rolling in and out.
ARC courtesy of NetGalley.