Beatrice was always kind of the lesser sister; less beautiful, less impulsive, less engaged in her life. Tess, at only 21, lived hers to the fullest. Bee’s dull, corporate job paled in comparison to Tess’s artistic passions, flinging bright paints onto large canvasses to make people feel something. And then Tess is found, dead, in an abandoned rest room, alone, cold, and presumed to have committed suicide after giving birth to a stillborn child.
The story of each sister’s lives unfolds through Bee’s narrative. Whereas Bee had always scoffed at Tess’s tiny apartment and job waitressing, she now lives in the apartment and picks up her sister’s shifts. She befriends her sister’s friends; the elderly landlord who Tess ate dinner with once a week, the Polish immigrant who Tess bonded during their pregnancies, even the mangy cat that Tess adopted. Bee, who never understood these relationships before, now leans on them heavily, and allows them to lean on her.
Bee becomes closer to her sister than ever before, but also begins to question whether or not she had really known her. As she learns more and more about Tess’s life, she also begins to unravel the mystery surrounding her death. Bee clings adamantly to the fact that her sister valued life too highly to have taken her own. This belief gives her the strength to search for her sister’s killer, despite losing her job, fiancé, and life in New York City in the process.
Lupton’s debut novel is filled with twists and turns, and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.