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The Geometry of Sisters, by Luanne Rice

The Geometry of Sisters
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Beck Shaw lost more than her father the night his boat capsized off Mackinac Island. Although she managed to survive the accident, her sister Carrie could not face the role she might have played in their father's death. She ran away from the emergency room, leaving Beck alone with her mother and older brother Travis. After more than a year of searching for Carrie, the remaining three members of the Shaw family are moving to Rhode Island where Maura Shaw will teach at an exclusive private school and where Beck and Travis will be reluctant enrollees. Since Carrie's disappearance Beck has become obsessed with numbers, mathematical equations, proofs and theories. Although she misses her sister desperately, she is confident that Carrie will come home when she is ready. At Newport Academy, Beck makes friends with another girl who is mourning a dead father, and the two decide that if they find the right mathematical formulas they can breach infinity and be reunited with their lost loved ones.

Maura's overriding goal is to find her missing daughter and bring her home. Although she'd wanted to remain in Ohio waiting for Carrie, she accepted the job in Rhode Island because she needs the money. As much as she hates to leave the only home Carrie, Beck and Travis have known, she is glad to be returning to Rhode Island where she hopes to reconnect with her estranged sister and where she'd fallen in love as a young woman. Relocation can be difficult in the best circumstances, but for this damaged and fragile family the move threatens to destroy the little strength they have left.

The story is narrated alternately by Blair Brown as Maura and Caitlin Greer as Beck. Blair Brown is the featured speaker whenever Maura is described or when Maura interacts with the other characters. Caitlin Greer gives voice to the juvenile characters or those interacting with Beck. This is an effective and entertaining way to present the unique conflicts and the concerns with which each of the main characters is dealing. Luanne Rice's treatment of the bond between sisters and the resulting pain that can occur through separation and estrangement makes the story and characters believable. Although Beck's love of her sister gives her great joy, the happiness she feels in her presence is replaced by anger, terror, self-doubt and despair when Carrie is gone. In moving the family to the private school in Rhode Island, Rice has the opportunity to explore a myriad of issues, among them, privilege, quality education, survival, ethics, forgiveness, redemption and acceptance. The result is an entertaining audio book that is not just a good story, but one that invites post-listening reflection.

Ruth Mormon

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