My Sister Esther

While Esther slides deeper into the grip of an eating disorder and her thoughts turn to suicide, her younger sister, Muriel, attempts to escape her family by following her boyfriend to China of the 1980s, where Western travelers are few. But neither geographic distance nor cultural dislocation can separate her from her sister’s suffering and psychological unraveling. A dark, spare novel of considerable intensity and poetic beauty.

Buy this book: at Indigo


She’s read twenty pages and made a list of all the words she doesn’t know, their meanings beside them. Now she has to use each word in a new sentence to prove she knows its meaning. She’s separated the nouns, adjectives and verbs into three columns. So far the nouns outnumber the verbs. She counts them again. Soon she’ll know many words, mix them into sentences that form a wall he’ll never see over the top of. She’ll line the top with sharp words – knife and glass. Then she’ll walk away and leave him shouting, from the other side, “Why are you doing this? I demand an explanation. I’m your father.” Even if he pulls out a few adjectives and peers through, all he’ll see is her shoulder blade, or the hem of her dress for a second.