Sister Carrie

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A literary psychological thriller by award-winning author William H. Coles. Two orphaned sisters, facing a future of want and loneliness, quarrel when the older sister, responsible for her dependent teenage sibling, repudiates her sister’s affair with a political activist--older and unacceptable--she bonds with on the internet. Can adolescent love ever transcend innocently ignored incompatibility to evolve into a valued family relationship in rural southern America? Can a sister forced into a role of a surrogate parent convince her sister to denounce her attraction for a rouge male religiously, socially, and historically unsuited for marriage without a destructive severance of duty and caring?
Finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.
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5 reviews for Sister Carrie

  1. Romuald Dzemo

    Sister Carrie by William H Coles is a psychological thriller that explores the themes of loss, grief, family, and a sister’s struggle to keep her younger sister from harm. After the loss of their parents, none of the siblings wanted Carrie, so Jessie had no choice but to take in her younger sister, determined to bring Carrie up with their parents’ Christian principles and keep her innocent. As Carrie settles in, Jessie’s dream of a loving husband and a happy brood of her own children is forgotten and she knows deep down that Carrie will never leave. But when Jessie realizes that her sister has been having an affair with a political activist, with whom she has bonded over the internet, Jessie rejects her. She can’t imagine how Carrie can have a genuine relationship with someone much older than her and someone she spends time with mostly over the internet. But Carrie sees things differently. Can Jessie win the confidence of her sister and make Carrie believe Jessie wants her own good or is Jessie about to lose someone close to her heart again?

    William H Coles crafts a story that focuses on the quarrel between two sisters, a novel with strong psychological hints. The characters are well imagined and skillfully developed. The author offers terrific descriptions of the characters, allowing readers to have a clear idea of the family dynamics. From the beginning, readers get clear images of what the sisters look like. Carrie Broward is “a tall, muscular girl with pretty facial features and short-cut straw-blond hair” and her sister Jessie Broward is “a full-figured woman with a close resemblance to her sister but with pecan shell-brown hair.” The conflict is introduced right off the bat, as the siblings share the belongings of their parents and think about who will take Carrie. It is evident that Carrie is a headstrong and free-spirited character and readers quickly want to see how she develops through the narrative. Sister Carrie is beautifully written, with prose that is exciting and characters that are memorable. In this novel, the author explores what it means to be a true sister.

    Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

  2. K.C. Finn

    Sister Carrie is a short work of literary fiction penned by author William H. Coles which focuses on relationships and psychology in a dangerous and destructive world. The novella features two sisters, orphaned and searching for acceptance in the wider world. When one sister begins a relationship online, the other older sister is filled with concern. She struggles with the parental role, feeling lost and lonely herself, and this struggle turns into a fraught tension between the pair as she views this affair and the man in question with a critical but somewhat naïve eye. All three of them seem headed for disaster throughout the tale.

    Sister Carrie isn’t as developed and complex a tale as much of William H. Coles’s work is, but the story itself carries an intriguing message and some important questions following the reading experience. I found the dialogue particularly compelling in this novella, really telling of the relationship between the sisters and their psychological difficulties in being orphaned. The bond they share is well analyzed and torn apart by their circumstances, and the idea of compatibility in relationships is strongly foregrounded. As always, Coles produces very strong descriptions throughout that bring the tale to life, but the plot and actions of the characters are a little truncated due to the tale’s brisk pace, which may make the reading experience confusing for some. Overall, however, Sister Carrie is well written and innovative in its literary exploration of the nature of relationships, making it a rewarding read.

    Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

  3. Lit Amri

    After the death of her parents, Jessie Broward takes her 17-year-old sister Carrie under her care. Despite worrying about financial matters, Jessie, an optometrist assistant, gets Carrie a job at the movie theater and life is good for them. An Arab man named Zamel, however, challenges the sisters’ bond when Carrie falls in love and marries him without Jessie’s blessing. Failing her secret relationship with her own boss, Jessie feels lonely without Carrie whom she’s convinced is miserable in a marriage with a man who’s under the watchful eye of the authorities.

    Sister Carrie by William H. Coles is a literary novella that examines the challenges of staying true to one’s value and judging the adolescent love between two people deemed incompatible in rural southern America. The story takes a rather frank look into the familial bond and responsibility between two orphaned sisters as well as the changes in life that challenge their faith and trust towards the people around them. It has an intriguing plot that kept my interest from start to finish. That said, several aspects of the story might alienate some readers.

    I found none of the characters particularly likable except for Jessie who’s trying to be the surrogate parent to the best of her capability, despite her own problems and shortcomings. Another character, Harold Lester, has a slightly vague part in the story and I wished there was more to tell about his ‘investigation’. The ending is abrupt but nonetheless wonderful for a religiously and socially provocative tale. All in all, William H. Coles’s Sister Carrie is a slightly unusual but swift and interesting read.

    Reviewed By Lit Amri for Readers’ Favorite

  4. Deborah Lloyd

    The Broward parents, from Piedmont of North Carolina, died at the same time, leaving the adult and almost-adult family of four children. After the funeral and cleaning out the house and outbuildings, Henry returned to Arizona and Martha to Michigan. Jessie, in her twenties, had no choice but to take seventeen-year-old Carrie into her small apartment. Carrie had dropped out of high school earlier, and Jessie got Carrie a job at the local movie theater. Jessie’s intention was to follow her parents’ Christian principles in guiding Carrie, although she was involved with a married man. This intention was soon challenged by Carrie’s interest in Zamel, an Iranian who worked on computers and for the local funeral home. Jessie’s disapproval of this relationship and its many implications for Carrie’s life lies at the center of Sister Carrie, written by William H. Coles.

    This short story is full of suspense and intrigue. It soon becomes apparent that Zamel has some secrets including involvement with unsavory characters. Carrie is not allowed into parts of his life. Yet, it is clear there is love and commitment in their relationship. Two other characters in the book, Reverend Luther Coffey and Harold Lester, strengthen the storylines of Jessie’s Christian beliefs and the intrigue of Zamel’s life. The book is well written and flows easily from event to event. The ending is unexpected, and it illustrates the themes of this fascinating story. Author William H. Coles has crafted a complex and engaging plot in Sister Carrie. An interesting read!

    Reviewed By Deborah Lloyd for Readers’ Favorite

  5. CatInTheHat

    Review from OnlineBookClub.org
    Imagine feeling as if no one understands you and no one seems to really want you. William H. Coles explores these themes in Sister Carrie. The Broward children have just buried both of their parents, rather unexpectedly. The youngest sister is a mere 17 years old and needs someone to take care of her until she reaches 18. They all have excuses, from being busy with their own kids, to not being able to afford her care. Jessie finally decides to relent if the others will help financially.
    Jessie and Carrie have very different ideas on how life should be and on what decisions Carrie should be allowed to make for herself. Carrie falls into a relationship with a man rather quickly, leading to a life of mystery and intrigue. Readers are taken on a ride where it is not always clear as to whom they should be rooting for or against. In the meantime, Jessie is lonely and tired of creeps trying to get close to her. Will she ever find happiness, either alone or with a special man?
    Watching the characters develop and change over time is intriguing, as their growth is not necessarily what one would expect. Carrie and Jessie are both immature as the story begins, despite Jessie being a bit older. As Carrie experiences her new life and meets difficult challenges, she changes in ways that are not always obvious. Jessie is always down on herself, having difficulty finding happiness in life, despite the efforts of others to include her in their lives. Over time, one sees growth in the way Jessie lives her life, in a very unpredictable way.
    Read the entire review here…

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