4/4/17

Gem & Dixie - Sara Zarr

I've read, and thoroughly enjoyed, two of Sara Zarr's previous novels (Sweethearts and How to Save a Life), so I went into Gem & Dixie hopeful that it would be another heartwarming contemporary.  I liked it, I did, but I think it was missing a little bit of the "wow factor" that I felt in her other two books.

The story follows two sisters, Gem and Dixie, who live with their mother who is often absent from their lives, due to working evenings and her on and off again struggle with drugs.  The story is told from Gem's perspective, the older sister who is struggling to shelter and take care of her younger sister who, in turn, is trying to pull away from his sister's shadow.  When the girls' father comes back into their lives suddenly, a series of events spinball from there that tests the strength of their relationship and their sense of identity.

I think my main struggle with this book is that I found it hard to identify with either of the girls.  At first, it seemed like I would identify with Gem, since she's an older sister, but I found it hard to for most of the book.  I've been thinking and reflecting about the characters and the story for a couple of days now, and I still can't quite put my finger on what it is that caused Gem to rub me the wrong way.  There were definitely some moments where I just couldn't understand her rationalization for doing the things that she was doing, and it made it hard to connect to the story.

With that being said, I do think that this is an excellent story of sisterly bonding and touches on the imperfect family bond in a thoughtful way.  Although it's not a new favourite, it's still a solid contemporary with serious heart.

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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