“Irises” by Francisco X. Stork
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Source: Free audiobook from Sync
Summary from Goodreads:
TWO SISTERS: Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. — if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.
THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate’s boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own.
ONE AGONIZING CHOICE: Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it’s Mama’s life that might divide them for good — the question of *if* she lives, and what’s worth living for.
I didn’t like the two narrators. Maybe it was because I was listening to the audiobook over a long period of time but I had a hard time telling the two apart. It took me a few minutes into each chapter to figure out who was talking (and what her situation was). I did like that we got to see two different sides to this story. You start getting angry at one sister because she’s being selfish but then you hear her side and you don’t know what to think. It’s a nice reminder to give other people a bit a slack because we don’t know what’s going on with the other person.
The story is definitely a hard one. I think for most young people losing a parent is among their greatest fears. Mary and Kate have to go through it twice. Even though Mama isn’t technically dead, she’s not able to care for her daughters. Papa dies quickly into the book. Those are obviously things that are very difficult to deal with. Then there’s the added stress of two teenage girls trying to figure out how they’re going to live after all this. On one hand the story moved me because my stomach continually sank everything something bad happened. I couldn’t imagine going through what they went through. On the other hand, I never felt it. I never felt bad for Mary or Kate. I was never moved to tears for them nor was I sick to my stomach for them. I just couldn’t connect to either of them. Perhaps it was the issue of listening to the book rather than reading it?
The bottom line? It’s a good ‘what if’ book because you can’t read it without imagining what you would do in their shoes.