My Sister’s Voice by Mary Carter
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Publication Date: May 25, 2010
A proudly deaf artist in Philadelphia, Lacey Gears is in a relationship with a wonderful man and rarely thinks about her childhood in a home for disabled orphans. That is, until Lacey receives a letter that begins, ‘You have a sister. A twin to be exact’. Learning that her identical, hearing twin, Monica, experienced the normal childhood she was denied resurrects all of Lacey’s grief, and she angrily sets out to find Monica and her parents. But the truth is far from simple. And for every one of Lacey’s questions that’s answered, others are raised, more baffling and profound. “My Sister’s Voice” is a beautifully written novel about sisterhood, love, and the stories we cling to until real life comes crashing in.
Lacey and Monica are two women living separate lives, in separate cities. Lacey is profoundly deaf; Monica is hearing. One day, Lacey receives a letter in the mail that changes her entire life – she has an identical twin sister – Monica. The premise of the book really drew me in. What if you got an anonymous note telling you that you have a twin sister? What if you are Deaf and you find out that this twin sister is hearing? How would you feel? What would you do?
Lacey Gears is a 28 year old portrait artist who also happens to be profoundly Deaf. Her character is very rough-around-the-edges and unsympathetic. She holds a lot of animosity from her childhood and it has shaped her into the hard-edged woman she is today. She is extremely proud of being Deaf and has formed a very close bond with others in the Deaf community.
Monica Bowman is a 28 year old author, who is currently promoting her book “The Architect of Your Soul”. Monica is a very needy woman who seems to always crave attention. I found her character to be a bit all over the place. At times she seems normal and easygoing; at other times she seems very unstable. It was a weird dichotomy for me and I didn’t quite come to a final conclusion as to who Monica really is by the end of the book.
Lacey receives a note telling her that she has a twin sister and directs her to a bookstore to learn more information. Lacey laughs it off at first, thinking it is a joke. But, curiosity gets the better of her and she goes off to investigate. What she finds at the bookstore changes everything she’s known. There really is a twin sister – and her name is Monica.
As Lacey and Monica struggle to come to terms with each other and their pasts, the narrative shifts between the two of them, and also to their mother, Katherine. The narrative also reverts back in time to what happened when the girls were separated. I found some of these chapters a bit confusing since there isn’t an introduction or a note at each chapter to let us know that the POV had shifted or that the time had shifted to 25 years in the past. The development of their relationship is interesting – with lots of give (Monica) and take (Lacey). They both seemed confused about how to act and what they should do with each other. It was intriguing, but, overall, I found their entire relationship to be very unhealthy (especially from Monica’s end).
The reason for their separation at a young age is a bit strange, in my opinion. I’m not sure I really connected everything together and came to a full understanding of WHY things happened the way they did. I don’t quite comprehend why their parents acted the way they did. It didn’t make much sense to me and I couldn’t rationalize it in my head. Yes, there were things happening at the time, but I couldn’t fathom a parent giving away one child and keeping the other. It just didn’t connect with me and I didn’t get it.
I learned a great deal about the Deaf culture from this book. Back in my college days, I had some exposure to the Deaf culture in Rochester, NY, and was able to interact with many people who are Deaf. I find the whole culture and language fascinating and this book really helped me to understand it even more.
Overall, this was an okay read for me. I was left confused and questioning some things that happened, but I would still recommend it for a fascinating look into the Deaf culture.