Sister Carrie

Fiction - Audiobook
96 Pages
Reviewed on 10/02/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite

Sister Carrie by William H. Coles is a great novella that follows the relationship between two sisters, Carrie and Jessie. After the death of their parents, no one is willing to take Carrie. Her older sister, Jessie, decides to take her in and she is determined to bring up her seventeen-year-old sister with the discipline she’d learned from her Christian parents. But then she discovers that Carrie has been having an affair with a political activist, a man old enough to be her father, and someone she bonded with over the internet. The situation is not only disappointing; Jessie can’t allow her sister to get involved with an older man she met on the internet. Can she convince Carrie to quit the relationship or will she be forced to abandon a sister to whom she’d assumed the role of a parent?

This is an emotionally charged narrative that is as realistic as it is entertaining. The story features great characters and I really loved the way that Carrie and Jessie are developed. Zamel is an interesting character as well and I was keen to see how his relationship with Carrie evolves. The premise is strong: a sister who is willing to do anything for her sibling loses her to a relationship without her blessing. The novel has an interesting twist and surprises that I never saw coming. I particularly enjoyed the way the author writes about online dating, a phenomenon that is contemporary and raises so many questions. Sister Carrie is a powerful story, a fast read that is well-written. Read by William H. Coles and in a voice that allows the imagery to come out strongly, starting with the description of the graves of the sisters’ parents, the voice captures the emotions, the tone of the story, the drama, and the conflict beautifully. The audio is clear and professionally done.

Foluso Falaye

Two cash-strapped sisters are left without parents, with the older one making enough just to live on and acting as a surrogate mother to her younger sister. They have a disagreement when the younger sister falls in love with a Persian immigrant whom the older sister suspects is up to no good and might be a threat to national security. Besides, she is not ready to lose her sister to a foreigner, especially when she is lonely and has yet to find a suitable partner for herself. The two lovers are determined to make things work in spite of their religious and cultural differences. Will their love succeed in the face of societal oppositions, ongoing investigations, and dangerous acquaintances? Sister Carrie by William H. Coles narrates an endearing story of love against all odds.

They say good things come in small packages; after reading Sister Carrie, I totally agree. William H. Coles takes a frank look into some social biases and prejudices associated with migration and interactions between different nationalities. Catholicism and Islam are major themes in the book. The story is written in a natural and easy-to-follow tone while progressing swiftly without skimping on important details. It is mostly focused on the concerned older sister and her struggle to accept Carrie's risky relationship. I got a feeling of mystery and was eager to find out about the Persian boyfriend and his involvement with his enigmatic friends. On reaching the end, I wasn't expecting the turn it took; nonetheless, it was a welcome surprise.

Sister Carrie is narrated by the author. I loved the fact that it's relaxing. It is clear enough to understand every word. However, the pauses between sentences felt a tad long; I found a way around this with an audio player than can adjust playback speed though, so it wasn't a problem for me. The playtime is exactly two hours, which I found oddly satisfying. William H. Coles narrates his story in a spirited and infectious tone that captures the mood of the story. Finally, despite the low-quality recording, I had a fantastic time following the storyline and listening to the narration of Sister Carrie and would confidently recommend it to others.

Debjeet Mukherjee

Sister Carrie by William H. Coles is a literary psychological thriller highlighting social issues of a middle-class family in rural southern America. The plot begins when a family of four siblings loses their parents and the burden of bringing up a teenager, Carrie, falls upon Jessy as Henry and Martha avoid the responsibility. Despite not being ready for inherited parenthood, Jessy takes Carrie in with her. However, challenges soon set in as Carrie falls in love with an immigrant from Iran who is of a different religious background. The fact that he is much older and her younger sister bonded with him over the internet irks Jessy but things take an unexpected turn in later chapters and Jessy finds herself amidst legal issues as her own personal life falls apart.

William H. Coles has written a suspenseful novella that will appeal to fiction and crime lovers. There are many themes discussed in the plot. The pages are filled with emotions and hardships faced by the common man. I liked how the author has changed settings in each chapter to present the story from different angles and character viewpoints. Moreover, the character development is commendable as all the protagonists have their individual sets of feelings. They get cared for, loved, cheated, lost, deceived, ecstatic, and broken by the many uncertainties of life. Suspense and anxiety are built as readers continue reading to discover the true colors of these characters. There is much speculation about terrorism involved in the pages. However, I must appreciate the calmness after the storm in the way the author has concluded his thrilling narrative.

This audiobook was narrated by the author himself. William H. Coles has beautifully narrated his work using the correct depth of voice, change in tone, and pausing at the right intervals. It was nice to hear the versatility of his narration using different voice notes for different characters. His brilliance has indeed shone through in both his writing as well as narration.

Michael Gardner

On the surface, Sister Carrie by William H. Coles opens with a simple story about orphaned sisters, Jessie and Carrie. Jessie, aged 25, finds herself thrust into a surrogate mother role for Carrie, the younger of the two, who is 17 and on the verge of blooming into womanhood. After some time, Carrie meets Zamel, a Muslim, and they fall in love. What follows is a much more complex and confrontational story dealing with religious and racial prejudice, the threat of terrorism, and the dynamics of a mixed marriage, all layered into the relationship between the two sisters. I suspect the ignorance, intolerance, and closed-minded behavior of the characters are deliberately provocative, demanding the reader to consider their own thoughts and feelings on the subject of cultural division in the world.

Sister Carrie is a predominantly grim story, as the characters deal with hardship and adversity. The narrative style follows the tradition of modern American literature, particularly gritty realism, where much of the action takes place around mundane events. However, the focus is not so much about what happens, but about people in various states of change. I expect the change that is effected by the end will polarize readers, in particular with Jessie, as it often does with this type of story. Personally, I found it thought-provoking and compelling, and I appreciate that William H. Coles doesn’t feel the need to explain the ending, giving the reader space to make up their own mind. I should note I listened to the audiobook version. The quality of the recording is crisp and clear. Read by the author, for obvious reasons, William H. Coles wrangles every ounce of emotional depth from his words.

Susan Sewell

A rebellious teen defies her guardian to develop a relationship she made over the internet in person in the fiction audiobook novella, Sister Carrie by William H. Coles. At the time of her parents' death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is the only one living at home. Jessie, Carrie's older sister, reluctantly becomes her guardian when their other two siblings refuse to take Carrie in. The two girls work together to make ends meet and become a family. However, when Carrie asks her sister to take her to the mall to meet her Iranian internet boyfriend, Jessie is perturbed and more than a little concerned. After two dates, Jessie's former concern and foreboding blossom into outrage and anxiety when Carries accepts his marriage proposal. Infuriated by Jessie's objections and her attempts to block the marriage, Carrie runs away and gets married, causing a rift in the sisters' relationship. In the meantime, a government agent is following Jessie and asking her questions about Carrie's new husband. Is Carrie caught in an international complication? Is she in danger?

Not only is the book well-written, but the narration is also coherent and entertaining. The author narrates the book himself, giving the listener the advantage of his original intent for his characters' emotions and thoughts with his vocal inflections. It is an engaging story that is absorbing and enjoyable. Sister Carrie by William H. Coles is an enigmatic audiobook about sisters and their diverse perspectives regarding a potential political activist. Filled with suspense, the story keeps you guessing about the antagonist's political agenda and purpose in marrying a young girl. With compelling characters and a sound plot, this is an excellent book for those who enjoy an intense and suspenseful novella. It also has the nice advantage of a short story in that the author doesn't drag the story out, but brings it to a timely conclusion, making it a perfect accompaniment for a short road trip or commute. Containing some mature sexual content, the story is more suitable for young adults and older.