Summary and book reviews of Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell

Sister Mine

A Novel

by Tawni O'Dell

Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell X
Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2008, 416 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

Shae-Lynn Penrose is former police officer with a closet full of miniskirts, a sharp tongue, and a tendency to deal with men by either beating them up or taking them to bed. But when the younger sister she thought was dead arrives on her doorstep, followed closely by a gun-wielding Russian gangster, a shady New York lawyer, and a desperate Connecticut housewife, Shae-Lynn is forced to grapple with the truth she discovers about the life her sister’s been living.

Shae-Lynn Penrose drives a cab in a town where no one needs a cab—but plenty of people need rides. A former police officer with a closet full of miniskirts, a recklessly sharp tongue, and a tendency to deal with men by either beating them up or taking them to bed, she has spent years carving out a life for herself and her son in Jolly Mount, Pennsylvania, the tiny coal-mining town where she grew up.

Two years ago, five of Shae-Lynn’s miner friends were catapulted to media stardom when they were rescued after surviving four days trapped in a mine. As the men struggle to come to terms with the nightmarish memories of their ordeal, along with the fallout of their short- lived celebrity, Shae-Lynn finds herself facing harsh realities and reliving bad dreams of her own, including her relationship with her brutal father, her conflicted passion for one of the miners, and the hidden identity of the man who fathered her son.

When the younger sister she thought was dead arrives on her doorstep, followed closely by a gun-wielding Russian gangster, a shady New York lawyer, and a desperate Connecticut housewife, Shae-Lynn is forced to grapple with the horrible truth she discovers about the life her sister’s been living, and with one ominous question: Will her return result in a monstrous act of greed or one of sacrifice?

Tawni O’Dell’s trademark blend of black humor, tenderness, and a keen sense of place is evident once again as Shae-Lynn takes on past demons and all-too-present dangers.

EXCERPT
Chapter One

I drive a cab in a town where no one needs a cab but plenty of people need rides. I've been paid with casseroles, lip gloss, plumbing advice, beer, prayers for my immortal soul, and promises to mow my yard, but this is the first time I've ever been offered something living.

The girl's around eleven or twelve. About twenty years too soon, she already possesses the self-centered, self-destructive attitude of a survivor of a string of bad relationships, failed diets, a drinking problem, and the realization that life is just a bunch of confusing, painful stuff that fills up the time between your favorite TV shows.

Her outfit looks like it's been picked out by a pedophile with a penchant for banging hillbilly girls, but more than likely her mom bought it for her. She's dressed in a pair of tight denim shorts with eyelet trim, a pair of clear plastic platform sandals encrusted in silver glitter, and a skimpy halter made from red bandanna ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Sister Mine, O'Dell's third novel following Back Roads and Coal Run, is a raucous, action-driven, fun read with a cast of robust characters including hard-talking Shae-Lynn, a Russian gangster, a sleazy New York lawyer, a dastardly mine owner and a wayward sister. In fact, it's such a fun read that it's easy to overlook that at its heart are powerful issues that explore, in various contexts and from various perspectives, the price we put on human life...continued

Full Review (820 words).

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Media Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
O'Dell hits her stride here; one hopes this is not the last we'll hear from her punch-packing, pink-Stetson-wearing heroine.

Kirkus Reviews
Shae-Lynn Penrose, the author's first female protagonist, is a ballsy, sassy delight, but the story she tells verges on ridiculous...Many wonderful scenes bear witness for people too often left voiceless in American literature, but coming on the heels of the majestic, passionate Coal Run (2004), this undisciplined novel is a disappointment.

Library Journal
Although she occasionally includes some jarring topics that veer toward the sentimental, she also packs this gripping tale with loads of action, intrigue, and suspense. Strongly recommended.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Family saga O'Dell-style crackles with conflict and a deep understanding of the complications and burdens that follow attachment, sex, love and kinship.

Booklist - Michele Leber
Starred Review. O'Dell...examines such issues as abuse, betrayal, abandonment, perseverance, and reconciliation, with love at the heart of it all, in crisp, insightful prose that sweeps the reader along. A knockout.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

US Military Recruitment

After several bad years, all branches of the military met their 2006 & 2007 recruitment targets (figures below are 2007 stats rounded to the nearest 1000):

  • Army: 80,000
  • Navy: 37,000
  • Marines: 36,000
  • Air Force: 28,000

This was a relief for the military, as the ongoing war in Iraq has made recruitment increasingly difficult. It is rare to try to fill wartime ranks purely with volunteers. The Spanish-American War, Mexican-American War and Gulf War are the only conflicts since 1775 that did not rely in part on conscripts.

Targets were met by improving incentives and loosening standards:

  • In 2006 enlistment bonuses were doubled to $40,000, and other financial incentives such as college scholarships were sweetened.
  • The maximum age for recruits was ...

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