"Sister," by A. Manette Ansay. Morrow. 228 pages. $24.
This compelling second novel is a story of siblings torn apart, of characters who move from certainty to doubt, gaining self-knowledge by being separated from those they once understood.
Abigail and Sam Schiller are inseparable as children, growing up in a snug Midwestern village. Their world is framed by family, the Catholic church and miles of cornfields. They spend their early years as playmates and roommates, who define themselves in terms of each other.
But soon the family unravels with Sam's departure.
Ansay has a way of picking up a wounded and fractured family and turning it over in her hands so that readers can bear to look at it, even at the ugliest parts.
In "Sister" as in her first novel, "Vinegar Hill," she offers both caution and reassurance. Calm exteriors can hide gruesome secrets, she tells us. Then she holds our hands while we examine those dark places and helps us feel enriched, not repulsed, by the experience.
Pub Date: 12/22/96