Friday 2 June 2017

My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall @RuthDugdall

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.
Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.
Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself.

My Sisters and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall was published in paperback by Thomas & Mercer on 1 May 2017.
I'm a huge fan of Ruth Dugdall's writing and have read all of her previous novels and have reviews of The Woman Before Me (November 2013), Nowhere Girl (October 2015), and Humber Boy B (March 2015) here on Random Things.

My Sisters and Other Liars is a standalone novel and quite different to her previous works, however she continues to deal with serious, dark and complex issues within it, just as she does in her earlier books.
Set in a secure unit for young people with eating disorders, known by its inhabitants as Ana Ward, this is a dark, chilling and at times, very unsettling story. Not for the faint hearted, this is a book that centres around control.

Lead character Sam is just seventeen-years-old and living behind locked doors alongside other girls like her. They starve themselves, they want to be stick thin, they want to be in control. There are little things that they can do that allows them a tiny bit of control; from drinking gallons of water before weigh-in, to sneaking sachets of mustard so that they can purge themselves. Each of the girls have different reasons for wanting to control their body, and Sam's problems stem back to the night that her older sister Jena was brutally attacked and left for dead.

Ruth Dugdall's writing is ambitious and brave. She takes the reader to places and into situations that are uncomfortable to read about, and as Sam's story slowly unfolds, the horror of her life and the issues behind Jena's attack rise to the front.

The author cleverly uses Sam's consultations with her therapist as the narrative to the book. When Clive, the head of the department is introduced to the reader, he appears to be quite cruel, using a form of blackmail to ensure that Sam opens up to him. As the sessions continue, the reader begins to realise that Clive's form of therapy is incredibly effective; both for Sam, and for the reader.

The author's ability to create her characters appears effortless; they are complex and fully formed and each one of them plays such an important role within the story.

The subject matter is dark and dangerous, dealing with issues rarely tackled in fiction. Ruth Dugdall's writing is intelligent and gentle and the plot is twisted and gripping.  This is a compelling read, perfect for existing fans of this author, and a fabulous introduction to her work for new readers.

My thanks to the author and the publisher who arranged to send my copy for review.


Ruth studied English at university and then took an MA is Social Work. Following this she worked in the Criminal Justice System as a social worker then as a probation officer. Part of this time was spent seconded to a prison housing serious offenders. She continues to work within the Criminal Justice System, most recently in Luxembourg.
Ruth's novels are informed by her experience and are "authentic and credible".

Ruth's first novel, The James Version, is a historical fiction based on the actual murder of Maria Marten at the Red Barn in Suffolk. The story is re-told with a fresh light on who really killed Maria. 

Her second novel, The Woman Before Me, won the Debut Dagger in 2005. It is the story of Rose Wilks, a female stalker imprisoned for killing a child, who claims to be innocent. 

Her third novel, The Sacrificial Man, will be published in 2011. 
It is the story on an Internet suicide pact that goes wrong. 

Humber Boy B, set in Ruth's birthplace Hull, was published in 2015 as was Nowhere Girl, which is set in Luxembourg. 

Apart from The James Version, all of Ruth's books feature probation officer Cate Austin. "Probation officers have more face-to-face contact with criminals than any other profession," she says, "they are the unsung heroes of the Criminal Justice System."

Find out more at
Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @RuthDugdall

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really interesting read- adding to my TBR pile!