The September Sisters

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It seems fittingly enough to review a book called The September Sisters in September, so here it goes.

The title of this novel, written by Jillian Cantor, refers to Abigail Reed, the narrator, and her younger sister, Becky. Sharing September birthdays, exactly two years and one day apart, the two pride themselves at teasing each other, the typical sibling relationship.
Then, one night in July, Becky mysteriously disappears without a trace. Abby’s world soon becomes complicated as she struggles with her family life and sudden social isolation at school. Her narration covers two years of her life and how she finds solace with Tommy, the boy next door, who is dealing with a loss of his own.

Several detailsImage in this story are relatable. Everybody has had to deal with people gossiping about them. However, Cantor makes an interesting point. Instead of Abby’s classmates talking about Abby’s actions, it’s her sister’s disappearance fueling the rumors. It displays how rumors can be about anything; not necessarily what a person does.  Also, Abby’s feelings about Tommy addresses how first teenage love can be disorienting.

The premise stood out to me. Although I’ve read novels before about brothers or sisters disappearing, this one isn’t predictable. I was kept guessing throughout the entire story about what happened to Becky. I’m not going to say what, because I don’t want to spoil it. It reminded me of the real-life kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, who was taken from her home in the middle of the night.

Cantor’s choice to write about this subject made the story more realistic. Instead of the cliché tale about a girl with family problems navigating her high school years, it’s a foreboding tale about a tragedy that could happen to anybody.

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The Mountain in Winter (original poem by me)

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The path winds through the trees.
Snow highlights bent branches.
The snow falls as the squirrels

 leap across the bare branches,
serving as their little highways.
Bare trees expose mountainside,

vulnerable to snow and wind
leaving nothing to protect it.
For three months, the mountain

asleep, with the grass hibernating
under the frozen accumulation.
Wind blows tops of evergreens,

as the circle sun struggles to seep
through the white, overcast sky.
Animal tracks dot the undisturbed

layer of fresh snow on the ground,
blanketing and protecting the
waiting and dormant vegetation.

The birds land on posts in search
of food, blue jays and chickadees
argue to get the most of the seeds

Soon, the winter wind will stop,
and the buds will turn into flowers,
 and the leaves will grow in and turn

green, as spring takes over the season.
After all has grown in and blossomed,
the now green mountain will awake.