Title: The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Who holds your secrets?
Allie is devastated when her sister commits suicide-and it’s not just because she misses her. Allie feels betrayed. The two made a pact that they’d always be together, in life and in death, but Leah broke her promise and Allie needs to know why.
Her parents hover. Her friends try to support her. And Nick, sweet Nick, keeps calling and flirting. Their sympathy only intensifies her grief.
But the more she clings to Leah, the more secrets surface. Allie’s not sure which is more distressing: discovering the truth behind her sister’s death or facing her new reality without her.
The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey is an emotional young adult novel that tackles some very difficult subjects such as teen suicide, grief, depression and drug use. It is a realistic and very compelling story that is thought-provoking and ultimately, healing. Due to some of its content, I recommend the novel to older teen (and adult) readers.
In the aftermath of her sister Leah’s suicide, Allie Blackmore is grief stricken and haunted by her sister’s death. They were incredibly close and as teenagers, they devised a suicide pact. Struggling to understand why her sister ignored their pact and killed herself, Allie begins a downward spiral of using cold medicine and eventually illicitly obtained prescription drugs in an effort to numb her pain. Although she is seeing a psychiatrist, she refuses to open up to her doctor and against medical advice, she stops taking her prescription for anti-depressants. Desperately trying to pick up the pieces of her life, Allie’s efforts are hampered by her inability to paint, a toxic relationship with her longtime crush and ghostly appearances by Leah.
Allie is a likable yet incredibly exasperating character. Instead of being honest about how much she is struggling, she keeps insisting everything is “fine”. Her relationship with her parents is fraught with tension even before Leah’s death and now they are wrapped up in their own grief, Allie is essentially left to deal with her problems on her own. With all of her father’s high expectations weighing on her, Allie resents his autocratic orders and dismissive attitude toward her and her mother. Her mom is of absolutely no help since she relies heavily on Xanax to get her through the day and continues to allow her soon to be ex-husband to steamroll over her. It is little wonder Allie chooses unhealthy ways to help cope with her crushing grief and her pain positively radiates off the pages of the novel.
As she tries to understand Leah’s decision, Allie keeps going over the events of their last day together. Her memories of their final evening together at a party are hazy but bits and pieces begin to come back to her. Did something out of the ordinary happen to Leah at the party? Do the answers lie in the sisters’ dysfunctional home life? The further Allie digs into Leah’s life, she is stunned to learn that her sister was keeping many secrets and despite the information she uncovers, she may never discover the reason for Leah’s inexplicable decision.
The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey is a riveting young adult novel that is gritty and unflinchingly honest. What initially drives the story is learning the truth about Allie’s family, the reasons for the suicide pact and why Leah committed suicide. However, by the novel’s conclusion, it is Allie’s journey of self-discovery that holds the reader’s attention. All in all, it is a very moving novel that I recommend to adults and older teens.