Sisters, by Daisy Johnson

Sophie Putze

The notion of sisters has always enticed me. Maybe it was because Lindsay Lohan made it look so desirable through her performance in The Parent Trap. Summer camps and pranks, all in one delightful Nancy Meyers package. Perhaps it was through the pages of Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson. More recently it may have been through Greta Gerwig’s portrayal of the March family in last year’s Little Women adaptation.  Regardless, growing up, I always wanted a sister. Naturally when Sisters by Daisy Johnson arrived on my doorstep, I was set to be enthralled.

“My sister is a wishbone my sister is the night train my sister is the last packet of crisps…
My sister is a forest on fire. My sister is a sinking ship. My sister is the last house on the street.”

From the beginning, you feel that something bad is going to happen to one, or both of the sisters in this novel. 

Shifting between the perspectives of July and September, the events of the previous season unfold. As sisters, they share an inseparable, intertwined existence. They have their shared language – a parallel with Everything Under, Johnson’s previous novel. 

With just a glance they know what one another is thinking. In fact, July suspects September can often read her mind on a deeper level and subsequently will finish her thoughts for her. July’s choices are shaped by September, the arguably more dominant personality of the two. In fact, we often see pivotal decisions made through a game September calls ‘September Says’. Think Simon Says, but darker. Much, much darker. 

Sisters is their story and the recollection of events from a previous summer. Life unravels and then repairs, like the ever-changing state of their late father’s house, or the unpredictability of their author mother, Sheela.

Dark, haunting and compelling. Sisters is unputdownable and makes for addictive reading. If like me, you were waiting for your next Daisy Johnson fix, this will be more than enough to quench your thirst. It is just as brilliant as Everything Under, if not more so. If you were a fan of Rest and Be Thankful by Emma Glass, you’ll love this. I finished Sisters over a week ago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Come New Zealand’s summer, I will definitely be reading this haunting book again poolside. 

Sophie is an aspiring essayist from Auckland, New Zealand. When she isn’t writing, she can be found reading multiple books at once or re-watching Fleabag for the umpteenth time. She also writes the blog, States Of Sophie.