Friday, June 19, 2020

"Sister Dear"

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. She now lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

McKinnon applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Sister Dear, and reported the following:
From page 69:
“No, and that’s exactly it. I wasn’t supposed to find out. I overheard him and my mother talking and I confronted them, got angry and…and then he collapsed.” My lips wobbled, stretching across my bottom teeth and I struggled to keep control. “My mother told me to leave and, coward that I am, I did. Then I got mugged, and Dad died and I feel like such a shit because I have all these unanswered questions I don’t know what to do with, and—”

Lewis squeezed my hand. “I’m sure he didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“I know,” I whispered. “But I hurt him. How can I ever forgive myself for that? And he died with all these secrets and I don’t know how to deal with them. It’s such a mess.”

I paused again, wondered how much more I should say. I noticed the way Lewis leaned forward, giving me his undivided attention. He was there out of some kind of savior’s guilt, perhaps, yet I felt I could trust him, and he’d listen. With everything that had happened in such a short amount of time, the protective bubble of self-preservation I’d wrapped myself in wasn’t enough tonight. I needed a friend.

“One of the last things my dad did was give the nurse a name,” I said. “I—I think it’s my biological father’s.”

Lewis raised his eyebrows. “Do you know him?”


“Could you ask your mother?”

“Definitely not. Like I said, things between her and me are—”

“Complicated. I remember. Has it always been that way? Difficult, I mean?”

I almost laughed. “That question will take eons to answer.”

“I’m not in a hurry,” he said gently. “You said your parents divorced?”
What a fascinating test! On Page 69 of my fourth novel, psychological suspense Sister Dear, the protagonist, Eleanor is at home. She’s confiding in her neighbor Lewis, who helped her after she was mugged. Eleanor’s father died from pancreatic cancer the night before, when Eleanor was in hospital being treated, and thus unaware her father had passed. She’s since learned he left her a name…more than likely the identity of her biological dad. Until the evening before Eleanor had no idea her father wasn’t her “real” dad.

The Page 69 Test certainly gives the reader a glimpse into Eleanor’s complicated life and how she blames herself for her father passing earlier than expected. Now she’s been given a chance to seek out her biological father. Will she take it? What will she find, and how will she react? This page is indicative more things are about to change in Eleanor’s life, but it doesn’t reveal any details as to the direction in which they’ll go. Being a suspense novel, that’s a good thing because you don’t want to give everything away this early.

However, this book is far less about Eleanor’s relationship with her biological father. Sister Dear, as the title suggests, is about sisters – half-sisters, to be exact – who don’t know the other exists…until Eleanor finds out. Her glamorous half-sibling Victoria has, and is, everything Eleanor could only ever dream of, and so Eleanor decides to infiltrate Victoria’s life without telling her they’re related. As is to be expected in psychological suspense, delicious fictional mayhem ensues.
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--Marshal Zeringue