Brother/Sister by Sean Olin

Some books you can only read when you feel in the right mood, and other books have the power to affect your mood.  Sean Olin’s latest book, Brother/Sister got so inside my head that it started to affect my mood.  It has to be one of the darkest, most disturbing Young Adult books that I’ve read in a long time

The brother and sister of the title are Will and Ashley and each chapter alternates between their points of view.  Sean Olin grabs you from the first paragraph,

“How many times do I have to say it?  Yes, I see the picture.  You’ve been shoving it in my face for, like, the past forty-five minutes.  And, yes, I understand what it is.  It’s a body, obviously.  It’s a dead body.  I’m not blind, okay?”

Both Will and Asheley are being interviewed by the police and it’s clear that they have something to do with the dead body.  Through their interviews we hear about their lives and their decisions that have lead them to this point.  Their parents have never been good role models.  Their mum has mental health problems which have lead to drink and drugs so she’s always in and out of rehab centres.  Their dad decided he couldn’t handle their mum and just up and left one day.  For a while now they’ve only had each other to look out for them and Will is the protective older brother.  He loves his sister and he’ll do anything to protect her.  When Asheley’s boyfriend forces himself on her, Will lashes out and does the unthinkable.   Asheley struggles to keep it together and Will really starts to spiral out of control, believing that people will find out what he’s done and try to take Asheley from him.  But at what stage does Will’s love for his sister cross the line?

Brother/Sister is a dark and disturbing story about the relationship between a brother and sister and the lengths they will go to to look out for each other.  Sean Olin takes the reader to some dark places and just when you think the character’s situation couldn’t get worse, it does.  Sean does an amazing job of getting inside his character’s heads and showing the reader the different sides of these characters.  Both Will and Asheley have authentic voices and, even when Will was at his most unstable, I still empathised with him.  Although I found the story disturbing in parts, Sean’s writing style made me want to keep reading to see how it would end.  If you enjoyed Jenny Downham’s You Against Me, try Sean Olin’s different take on the brother/sister relationship.

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