By Ali Ahearn & Ros Baxter
What a rare treat it is to open up a new book and to be hooked on the story within the first few paragraphs. Sister Pact by Ali Ahearn & Ros Baxter is one of those books. It took me just two days to finish the entire 375 pages and I found it a true joy to read. It is a beautifully written story embodying human frailties and vulnerabilities, and the hope and healing that love can ignite in even the most wounded of us. It combines a hilarious comic undercurrent with a deep heartfelt message of love and the effect that our betrayals can have on our most precious relationships.
Imagine this: you are estranged from your sister and you both share a dark secret that tore your sisterhood apart seven years ago. You are then forced, by the hand of your deceased grandmother, to both enter an arduous reality TV program set on a remote tropical island on the other side of the world. This task requires a defiant and fierce determination to conquer each challenge put before you in order to reach the finale and receive an inheritance of 1 million pounds each – an inheritance that if obtained, would change both of your troubled lives forever. This is the story of Joni and Frances.
The authors did a wonderful job of making the characters come alive on the pages. Joni and Frances, who are polar opposites, have their own unique way of interpreting both the world itself as well as where they believe their place is within it. With raw, transparent flaws combined with their own individual strengths, both of the characters are immediately likeable. As their strained relationship is brought to the fore upon being forced back together by their inheritance proposition, the reader is taken on a journey of sibling rivalry that is at times hilarious and at other times extremely sad – even tragic.
I was impressed by the way the authors combined the adventures of being on a reality TV show on a remote island, faced with bizarre and gruelling challenges, with not only the sisters’ relationship ups and downs, but also the way they related to the other contestants and the film and crew involved. I really felt like I was on that island with them, that some of them could easily be friends of mine, while others, I would easily despise. In all honesty, there were many times that I forgot that I was reading a fictional story and was so convinced by both the authenticity of the storyline and the characters, that it easily could have been a true story.
There is a key message to this story that I loved and which rang true to me – that no person or relationship is perfect, forgiveness heals broken hearts and that in facing your own mistakes and downfalls, you can emerge a better version of the person you thought you were. I absolutely loved this book and I highly recommend it.