Review: What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock

August 7, 2012 Ballantine Books, General Fiction, Review 7

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 7, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0345524438
  • Source: Publisher

In the follow up to Flock’s Me & Emma, nine-year-old Carrie and her mother are now transients, attempting to start anew, escaping a life of abuse and rejection from their small town in the mountains of North Carolina. Carrie’s mother, Libby, unable to cope with the way their life has turned out, takes out her abuse, verbally, on poor Carrie. Never short on complaints about her daughter, Libby often leaves Carrie alone in the  hotel room they now call home while she looks for a job.  Libby often forgets to leave her daughter food, so Carrie is forced to eat whatever she can find, in some cases just paper, to sustain herself. She’s beings to make a practice of going to the nearby Wendy’s, stocking up on croutons and ketchup packets. Her only solace is her memories of her sister, Emma, a name Libby forbids even mentioning.

It is at Wendy’s that Carrie meets Cricket Chaplin (yes, those Chaplins) and her mother Honor. Honor sees how starved Carrie is, also noticing the uncanny resemblance she has to her dead daughter. It doesn’t take long before Cricket and Carrie become close friends. Cricket introduces Carrie to a world she’s never experienced: clean clothes, an iPod, computers. Carrie provides Cricket with the companionship she has missed since the passing of her sister. The three generations of Chaplin women-Cricket, Honor, and her mother Ruth, provide Carrie with a live she’s longed for. Yet, the secrets that each family holds dear begin to unravel, altering both families lives forever.

As mentioned above, What Happened to My Sister is the follow up to the author’s previous book, Me & Emma, taking place with only a short span of time between. Told in alternating chapters, What Happened to My Sister is told from two completely different voices, young, abused and naive Carrie and a more mature Honor Chaplin. Certainly not a light read, this novel focuses a great deal on Carrie’s abuse and neglect. That said, there is a great deal of hope, for Carrie rises above her painful past and transforms into an incredibly strong, brave, and resilient heroine.

I do recommend reading these two books in the order they were published. While What Happened to My Sister does give a brief summary of the saga that transpired in the previous novel, it is my opinion that a reader cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of the story without reading it, first hand.

These two novels have truly made an impact on my life, for the incredibly young Carrie Parker will have a place in my heart for some time. Highly recommended.


Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to review this book. Please be sure to check out the other stops in the tour.

7 Responses to “Review: What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock”

  1. Stephanie
    Twitter: qbibliophile

    This sounds like it would be terribly depressing, although from the way you describe it, it sounds like a powerful novel.

  2. Heather
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath

    I couldn’t agree more – I loved both of these books… My review of WHTMS posts tomorrow. :)

  3. Pamela King Cable
    Twitter: pamelakingcable

    I read the first book, Emma & Me, and loved every second of it. The second book is every bit as wonderful. I agree, I love these stories of heartwrenching detail. A beautiful little girl that brings tears to my eyes. Flock has written another fine novel that pulls us in and doesn’t disappoint. Loved it.

  4. Rachel

    I did feel like I was missing something not having read the first book even though I did enjoy this book a lot.