The Favourite Sister, by Jessica Knoll

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I first heard about this book while completing (procrastinating on finishing) an assignment for my publishing program. I’m a sucker for any book that involves reality TV, but when you add in a good mystery, I was hooked!

The Favorite Sister  by New York-Times Best-Selling author Jessica Knoll, follows five successful women who star on a reality TV series called Goal Diggers. The show chronicles the lives and successes of Brett, Kelly, Stephanie, Lauren and Jen. It’s supposed to be about uplifting and supporting women in their successes, but nobody expects the season to end in murder…

A Fabulous Murder Mystery

The Favorite Sister snagged me right from the first page when I read Kelly’s admission that Brett, her sister and one of the characters that we come to know and love throughout the course of the narrative, will die at the end of the book. While sometimes I find that this convention can backfire, finding out that someone will die in the first paragraph of a story only served to pique my interest, maybe because Kelly, Brett’s sister, also admits that it is her fault. Is Kelly the killer? How does it happen? 

Wouldn’t you like to know?

An Excellent Narrative Framework

Fabulous hook aside, what kept me reading was the smart discussion around so many different feminist issues. Sure, it was fascinating to read about the tricks of the Reality TV trade, such as uncorking bottles of wine so that the actors can’t tell how much alcohol they are consuming… Or texting actors with prompts to make on-screen discussions more juicy… (Apparently all true!) …What I liked the most was the narrative framework that Knoll builds around her juicy reality-tv mystery.

Framing the mystery around the discussion of successful women and how they are often put in positions where they must be fiercely competitive and applauded for cattiness on and off television was a clever way to open up readers to an important discussion without getting too heavy-handed.

Real Women, Real Relationships

Despite the sometimes serious ideas that Knoll puts forth, I think that her narrative never gets weighed down because her characters feel like real women and their backstories, woven expertly into the high-powered plot are interesting to read about. Sure, Kelly has issues with Brett, who skyrocketed to fame and left her in the dust, but it is clear that despite their frequent fights, she loves her sister. Hearing from several female narrators, all with different life-perspectives made for excellent reading. Even better, as certain truths come out about the women on Goal Diggers and we discover more and more about their own histories, it feels in part like unraveling another dimension of the mystery.

Jessica Knoll writes about seduction in The Favorite Sister when she says:

“Isn’t that the secret sauce of seduction? First the snare of mystery, then the distinctly female instinct to rehabilitate.”

That is what The Favourite Sister does–it seduces the reader with a fantastic mystery, while subtly working to rehabilitate common ideas about feminism.

 

What are your favourite reality TV themed or girl-power books? Let me know in the comments below!

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