My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall
I’ve read a few books by Ruth Dugdall and have enjoyed them. One of my favorites was “Humber Boy B”. So after reading the description for “My Sister and Other Liars”, I was quick to hit that request button.
In eighteen months many things can change. This is especially true for seventeen-year-old Sam. Eighteen months ago, Sam was searching for ways to help her twenty-nine-year old sister regain her memories after a vicious attack. Now Sam is struggling to care about anything…
The first line of the book pulled me right in.
“My body is eating itself, my brain too, apparently“
This is one of the things Sam is learning in her eating disorder group. Her body is searching for sustenance anywhere and causing serious damage. But that’s not scary to someone with a severe eating disorder, it actually offers comfort. Because the thing they most want to do……is disappear. Sam is in a group with four other girls but feels very alone. She hasn’t seen any family or friends for eighteen months.
On her sixteenth birthday, Sam’s dad gave her a vintage camera. A present that Sam loved! It belonged to him when he was a boy. He gave it to her sister Jena as a gift, years ago and now he was giving it to Sam, which understandably upset her sister.
“You can’t give Sam that camera! It’s not right, Dad. you promised you wouldn’t. How can you do that to me?”
Sam had always been jealous of the shared passion for photography her sister and father had. But her father said Jena had lost interest so he was giving the camera to Sam. Her sister stormed out and not long after was attacked by an unknown assailant and left for dead. Jena had no memory of what happened or who attacked her, so the police had little to go on. Sam was going to do whatever she needed to do to help her sister remember.
Now eighteen months later, Sam is still hospitalized on the Ana (Anorexia) Unit. She’s been there the longest out of the five girls. February 1st is an important date. A board meeting to discuss Sam’s progress. She could be released if she’s well enough. While Sam wants to be free to go home, she’s not able to give up this control. A new psychiatrist wants to help her and uses some unorthodox ways to get Sam talking. It’s hard for Sam to talk about what happened. Control and secrets are things Sam understands well. But the memories keep intruding, and no amount of starvation is going to keep them away.
Can Sam finally open up about everything that happened?
We learn how the other girls ended up on the unit. It was horrifying when these girls would praise each other for how low their BMI was. Congratulating each other for having a feeding tube!
“Lucky, she says. Now you don’t even have to eat.”
It made me sad but it was very enlightening. I thought I knew a lot about eating disorders but I feel like I have an even better understanding now. The author has obviously done her research.
While a lot of the book deals with Sam’s illness, the mystery surrounding what exactly happened the year before is also slowly revealed.
This was an incredibly gripping read with many twists and turns. So many questions. Where are Sam’s friends and family? Why is she refusing to let anyone visit? Where is Jena….. and who was responsible for her attack?
As well as ….what was Sam’s part in all of this? What will happen when everyone’s secrets are finally revealed?
I recommend you read the book and find out!
Thank you, Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing an advanced readers copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.