Ruth Ann (Roo) McCabe is on her way to pick up Tilly, her sister, and best friend. When she hears a text message alert, Roo decides to respond to it. Just before she runs into a woman walking her dog, Roo swerves off the road. Her car flips onto a frozen marsh and Roo ends up in the hospital. Everyone thinks she’s in a coma, but she can actually see, hear, and understand what is going on around her. She is paralyzed and trapped inside her body, pleading for someone to hear her silent screams.
Roo was responding to Tilly's text and now Tilly struggles with her grief while also battling overwhelming guilt. Before the accident, Tilly felt overshadowed by her perfect sister and tried desperately to live up to Roo’s standards. Roo is brilliant at photography, has excellent grades, is absolutely beautiful, and has a boyfriend named Newton. As Tilly blames herself for the accident, she and Newton bond over their love of Roo. How could she betray Roo by developing feelings for her boyfriend when Roo has already lost so much? But Tilly is the only person who truly gets Roo. Can the girls find a way to both heal?
BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
The Secret Language of Sisters is quite realistic and accurately portrays how siblings interact with one another. Because the narrative switches between Roo and Tilly’s points of view, you get an in-depth perspective on both of their feelings. Roo especially reminded me of myself and my own feelings of protectiveness and closeness with my sister. The author's inclusion of the death of the girls' father, prior to Roo's accident, added suspense and weight to the hope for Roo’s condition to improve, as well as increasing Tilly's feelings of personal guilt. Roo remaining in the hospital the whole book was very raw and closer to reality.
The Secret Language of Sisters is a perfect choice for those with siblings, as it reminds readers how important family is. The novel is a great example of how to treat your sister or brother with respect and kindness, especially when they do something hurtful to you.
The only part of the book that upset me was how everyone in town, including her mother, blamed Tilly for Roo texting while driving. Isabella, Roo’s best friend, especially got on my nerves by playing the blame game. It made me so angry for Tilly! Her sister is paralyzed and all anyone can think to do is make her feel even worse? Blaming Tilly is not going to fix the problem.
Overall, the book is a realistic, cautionary tale about the dangers of texting and driving. The bond between the sisters was well portrayed while showing that both of the girls are individuals and very different. I recommend this book to teens 13 and older.
A story about the perils of texting while driving is as contemporary as it gets. The story is extremely well written, and readers will find themselves immersed in both sisters' lives.
None noted by this reviewer.
This is a realistic story about two sisters and the results of one texting the other while driving.
As our reviewer noted, there is a lot of "blame Tilly" going around town. How do they feel about that? Do they, like our reviewer think that the driver "needs to make sure they answer texts or phone calls when they are stopped and not driving?"
Although there is a lot of emphasis about Tilly's grief, what about Roo? What sense(s) of loss is she feeling? How would your reader feel if they were in Tilly's shoes? Roo's shoes?
13 and Up
12 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer's Age: 15
Borrow. An exceptional read, but one you probably won't come back to again.