A lyrical and thought provoking novel perfect for book clubs, The Orphan Sister by Gwendolyn Gross questions the intricacies of nature and nurture, and the exact shape of sisterly love…
Clementine Lord is not an orphan. She just feels like one sometimes. One of triplets, a quirk of nature left her the odd one out. Odette and Olivia are identical; Clementine is a singleton. Biologically speaking, she came from her own egg. Practically speaking, she never quite left it. Then Clementine’s father—a pediatric neurologist who is an expert on children’s brains, but clueless when it comes to his own daughters—disappears, and his choices, both past and present, force the family dynamics to change at last. As the three sisters struggle to make sense of it, their mother must emerge from the greenhouse and leave the flowers that have long been the focus of her warmth and nurturing.
For Clementine, the next step means retracing the winding route that led her to this very moment: to understand her father’s betrayal, the tragedy of her first lost love, her family’s divisions, and her best friend Eli’s sudden romantic interest. Most of all, she may finally have found the voice with which to share the inside story of being the odd sister out...
A trio of sisters navigates familial quirks and tragedy in Gross's emotionally charged fourth novel (after The Other Mother). Though Odette, Olivia, and Clementine have always shared a special bond as triplets, Clementine the narrator and nonidentical triplet sibling to identical twins, has often felt like the third wheel. It doesn't help matters that, as they approach 30, Odette and Olivia are Harvard grads, sharing a medical practice, happily married, and expecting babies, while Clementine is living in her parents' carriage house. The sisterly bond is further strained when their father disappears and Olivia claims to know the dark secret that compelled him to take off, but she refuses to share anything more than her anger. As Clementine searches for clues, she touches on the secret that will redefine the sisters' identity, confronts her unresolved anger toward her father, and comes to terms with the long-ago death of her first love. Gross brings abundant personality to the sisters' interactions as they move through a fairly humdrum story of family secrets.