In Hogan’s first adult fiction (she has sevenYA titles to her credit), the poisonous relationship between two sisters, and the family dysfunction that grew it, is examined with style and sensitivity.
Muriel had her Sunday planned: She would hole up for hours of binge TV-watching and a tub of popcorn in her Manhattan apartment. But then Pia calls, and Muriel’s day is transformed. As she waits for her older sister’s arrival from Connecticut, Muriel recalls a childhood marked by exclusion and petty cruelties; her older sister was perfect, and their mother, Lidia, made no effort to hide her preference in daughters. Lidia, beautiful and perpetually dissatisfied with her life in Queens, had forced a shotgun marriage on the girls' father, Owen, an engineer who preferred tinkering in the basement to talking with his family. Little has changed in the ensuing years; their parents are remote, and brother Logan has abandoned the family altogether. Pia, with sculpted hair and body, lives in the rarefied air of Westport with a financier husband and accomplished daughter. Muriel is an assistant casting agent with few friends or romantic prospects; she is the moon to Pia’s sun. But when Pia comes for that Sunday visit, it's to confess a secret—she’s dying of cancer and has come to the city to buy a dress to be buried in. Muriel is good at keeping secrets (she never told anyone that Pia nearly killed her on a beach outing or that her mother was having an affair with their priest), and now Pia is asking her to keep this news from Lidia. When the narrative shifts from Muriel's perspective to Pia’s, the malicious older sister is humanized, if not entirely redeemed. Pia’s battle with cancer is vivid and heartbreaking, Muriel’s guilt (for not being lovable) is tragic, though nothing compares to Lidia’s final, scandalous confession.
Hogan’s characters may be too broadly drawn (one sister so callous, the other so naïve), but she creates a gripping narrative of a fractured family.