When the author was 12, her 14-year-old sister, Karen, disappeared. At first, for the reader, the natural assumption is that Karen was abducted or murdered, that this will be the story of a family rent apart by an outsider. But as it turns out, Karen ran away, as Maria herself would later do, making My Sister Life the story of a family that doesn’t need any help from outsiders in completing its own self-destruction. Karen and Maria spent much of their adolescence and 20s living the kind of lives found in moralistic after-school specials (this is what happens to runaways). Instead of the cliched ending such a show would most likely have, however, the book ends in a refreshingly human, startlingly humdrum sort of way. A-

My Sister Life
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