Book Review: Sister Dear

11 May

Sister-Dear-252x384All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish – time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

LMcNeill-369Laura McNeill is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

Find out more about Laura at


My Impressions: 

I loved Laura McNeill’s first book, Center of Gravity. There was a bit of controversy about this book among the members of a FB group I belong to. The buzz surrounding the book intrigued me, so I picked it up. It was great. Now, with her second book, Sister Dear, McNeill has established herself as one of my must-read authors. Sister Dear is all the things I love in a book — real-life characters with messy motives and emotions, a tension-filled plot that made me stay up way too late, and themes that kept me thinking long after the cover was closed. My book club is reading this book later this summer. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

Allie Marshall has fulfilled 10 years of a 16 year sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Days within the prison were about surviving. When she gets a chance at a new start, she is excited, scared and determined to get past the injustice of her sentence. But life on the outside is complicated, especially when she must find out what really happened on the night that changed the course of her life.

Sister Dear is part psychological thriller, part family drama. The novel is told from the perspectives of the four main characters — Allie, Allie’s sister Emma, Allie’s daughter Caroline and Sheriff Lee Gaines — to great effect. Their unique perspectives, hidden motivations and deep passions give a whole picture. The story unfolds slowly through their recollections and present day actions. Things are definitely not what they seem on the surface. Jealousy and bitterness are front and center in Sister Dear. Old resentments are closely tended as they grow to overwhelming strength. Truth is also hard to find, but, as always, eventually emerges. Sister Dear doesn’t end with a neat, tied-up-in-a-bow, happy ending. The life portrayed is messy, messy, but the ending is certainly satisfying, at least for this reader. There is hope for the future and the healing power of forgiveness.

A powerful story, real-life characters, and excellent writing combine to make Sister Dear a highly recommended read. You need to put this one on your summer reading list!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Thomas Nelson and LitFuse for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

14 Responses to “Book Review: Sister Dear”

  1. thepowerofwords2016 May 11, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    This is a new author for me, Beckie – one that I decided to try because I love relationship drama so much. Read the first few chapters last night and am totally hooked. So glad to know how you felt also.

    • rbclibrary May 11, 2016 at 11:48 am #

      It hooked me from the beginning too. I also highly recommend Center of Gravity too. Scary real!

    • Laura McNeill (@LauraMcNeillBks) May 14, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

      Thank you so much! So glad to hear it!!! Laura

  2. Sue May 12, 2016 at 11:20 am #

    This is my next book to review and have only read the first 50 pages. Have a busy weekend packed with family obligations. Might be pulling another all nighter tonight — can this old lady handle two in one week?? Better get my grocery shopping and laundry done and get reading.

    • rbclibrary May 12, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

      I promise the pages turn faster and faster with this one!

    • Laura McNeill (@LauraMcNeillBks) May 14, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

      Oh Sue, thank you so much! I hope that you enjoyed the rest of the novel! xo, Laura

  3. martyomenko May 14, 2016 at 9:27 am #

    I really enjoyed this one too! I loved the message of forgiveness and that things were not nice and neat at the end as well. The three or four POV’s was also done really well.

    • rbclibrary May 14, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      I heartily agree, Martha. She is an excellent writer.

    • Laura McNeill (@LauraMcNeillBks) May 14, 2016 at 8:15 pm #

      Dear Marty – the power of forgiveness is so important to this book! So gald that you enjoyed the multiple POVs! Laura

  4. Laura McNeill (@LauraMcNeillBks) May 14, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    Thank you so much for the lovely review and to highly recommend Sister Dear to your “By the Book” readers! I am thrilled to be featured on your blog!

    I’m so glad that you found the end satisfying — it is exactly how I attempted to shape it — with hope for the future and the healing power of forgiveness.

    Big hugs, Laura

    • rbclibrary May 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

      You are very welcome! Looking forward to more from you.

  5. Silver's Reviews June 7, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    It is a book that could be “real life.”

    Nice review…nice blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Sister Dear Review

    • rbclibrary June 7, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

      Thanks! And thanks for stopping by!


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