Author: Francisco X. Stork
Release Date: January 2012
Published By: Arthur A. Levine Books
Goodreads Rating: 3.35 stars
Review: Sisters Kate and Mary are as different as can be. Kate is Stanford-bound aiming for an MD, while Mary just wants to stay home and paint. When their oppressive father suddenly passes away, they find themselves confronted with too many choices in their newfound freedom, and everything hinges on their mother's life - whether she lives, and what's worth living for.
IRISES was a novel that was at once sweet and sad. There were moments in the book that were simply heartbreaking and made me want to reach out and hug both Kate and Mary as they struggled through their difficult trials and tribulations, but at the same time, there were heart-warming themes of sisterhood, family, and growing through the grieving process worked in with the story.
One theme that I didn't expect was the religion. I hadn't realized that their father was a deeply religious man who tried to instil the same values in his daughters, so that came as a bit of a surprise to me. As an atheist, I sometimes feel a little uncomfortable and out of my depth when reading books that heavily focus on such themes, but I felt the amount in this book was tasteful and appropriate. It added to the story without coming across as too much for people like me who are non-religious.
Although there wasn't anything I found technically wrong with this book, as you can see, I only chose to give it four stars instead of five. This was because despite the emotional writing and story, there were never really any places that could move me to tears or really bring out a hefty display of emotion. I was touched, and the book was very good, but I was never profoundly affected and the book never quite crossed over into "stellar".
All in all, IRISES was a lovely and bittersweet story detailing the trials undergone by two sisters who have their differences despite their love for each other. With well-written characters, deeply explored themes, and a resolution that is satisfying without being candy-sweet, this is a novel for anyone who enjoys contemporary dealing with heavy issues.