My Sister's Bones

When her mother dies, Kate returns home to Herne Bay in Kent, England, from Syria, where she was stationed as a war reporter. Staying in her mother's house, she sees a small boy in a neighbor's backyard who comes out only at night, at times seemingly calling out to her for help.

But when Kate reports her sightings to the police, the neighbor--an Iraqi refugee--denies having a child. Is Kate's post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing the horrors of war making her hallucinate?

When she gets called back to Syria, Kate asks her estranged sister, Sally, to keep an eye out for the boy at the neighbor's house. But Sally, who resents Kate for many reasons--real and imagined--going back to their troubled past, has sunken deep into the bottle and has no intention to help Kate or anyone, including herself, in any way. Sally soon learns to regret not heeding Kate's plea.

No matter where readers think Nuala Ellwood's My Sister's Bones is headed, their guesses will likely be wrong. When the story seems to be going one way, Ellwood blows it up and forces readers to reconsider events from a different perspective. Kate's point of view is an important one to have, since it explores the symptoms of PTSD and engenders compassion toward those living with it (Ellwood received an Arts Council grant to research the condition). Though the prose contains distracting redundancies--"I nod my head," "I shrug my shoulders," etc.--this psychological thriller is filled with surprises. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

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