The Language of Sisters by Amy Hatvany
(NAL Trade, 2002, 278 pages)
Nicole Hunter has trouble coping with the demands of a life with her disabled sister, Jenny, who is both mentally and physically challenged. It is when Nicole’s parents decided to place Jenny in an institution that Nicole decides to move away. She is gone for nearly a decade when she gets a feeling that something is wrong with Jenny and makes a phone call to her mother. Her mother tells her that tragedy has struck Jenny and therefore Nicole decides to go back home. She must now face her own feelings of guilt for leaving her sister so long ago and the strained relationship between her and her mother.
Nicole is worried that Jenny will still be upset with her for leaving but only finds that Jenny has forgiven her and their bond is still as strong as the day she left. Nicole decides to bring Jenny back to her mother’s house and take care of her. It is then that she discovers just how challenging it can be to take care of someone with disabilities and gains a true understanding of why her mother ultimately had to put Jenny in an institution. Nicole is forced to face the guilt she has for leaving her sister behind. In taking care of Jenny, Nicole will find a way to forgive herself just as her sister has. The tragedy that brought Nicole back home will eventually lead to blessings for everyone.
This book was beautifully written. The author takes some very difficult issues and builds a story around them. It is very moving with deep moral and philosophical issues. It shows that forgetting yourself can sometimes be the best way to find yourself while also demonstrating the true meaning of unconditional love, forgiveness, and healing. The bond between the two sisters is heartwarming and uplifting. A wonderful story!