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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
California Sister by Gloria Mattioni is a touching novel about sororal love. It’s an immediate audience-grabber as you learn from the opening chapter about the close relationship between Claire Waters and her sister Ondina, who was in Italy. Claire, a mystery writer based in Los Angeles, received a call that she initially thought was something to do with her frail mother who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. It turned out that Ondina was rushed to the hospital after collapsing from a massive brain hemorrhage. Claire could not believe what she had just heard. Ondina was her rock, her protector, the only person who could put her together every time. As family bonds far outweighed her thriving career as a novelist, she chose to be by her sister’s side. In the course of events, as she witnessed her sister having an active mind in a non-responsive body, she clung to hope while she changed her values and life perspectives.
This book is compelling in the sense that the event portrayed here could very well occur in real life. Many of us have made sacrifices for the sake of our loved ones in their most challenging times. This is the case of a successful writer who has never felt the same since her sister’s tragedy. California Sister may sound like a tearjerker, but it offers something more. It is a practical parable about the choices we make and the priorities that matter to us. Claire chose to be with her sister, and her reason for doing so is made clear by Gloria Mattioni’s narrative delivered from Claire’s perspective. She occasionally allows Ondina to tell her side of the story, giving readers a better understanding of the characters and their motivations. The way Claire’s character changes as the storyline progresses is one of the best elements of this novel. It’s a must-read.