The Sister Pact
They were supposed to do it together. Allie and Leah had made a pact that if their parents’ failing marriage destroys their home life, they’ll escape into death together. Only, Leah makes the jump without Allie. And Allie is left behind to pick up the pieces.
So many things happen to this poor girl. Her best friend Max, who she’s in love with, totally doesn’t deserve her. But she can’t seem to get into the sweet boy who treats her well. Her painting massively suffers in the wake of her sister’s death. It’s like the colors have gone out of her world. No pressure. Just that whole art school portfolio deadline. On top of it all, her parents have split, her mom is nursing her Xanax addiction and Dad is shacked up with his new young girlfriend. It’s a pretty big mess, and understandably, Allie’s pretty much drowning.
I liked how the story unfolded in ways that challenged how I felt about each character. Often I would learn something that maybe didn’t reverse my feelings on a character, but showed some new insight that changed how I felt and also altered the course of events in the story. For the most part, I thought the characters themselves were fantastic. The one exception for me was John. I felt like he was too benevolent or something? I mean, he’s basically a drug pusher and something of a bully from the sound of things, but somehow he’s also the good guy? It just felt off for me. Like the balance was missing from his character.
The drug content and sexual content make this a pretty intense read. I liked that Ramey showed consequences to the drug abuse and that Allie really wrestles with how she feels about having had sex. I get tired of the portrayal of teen sex as this problem-free, everyone-is-doing-it-and-it-always-goes-well-unless-it’s-rape experience. I know not all teen books are like that, but it’s definitely a pet peeve of mine when they are. While I’m not a huge fan of sex in YA, I appreciated that Ramey related the experiences briefly and focused on the emotional fallout surrounding Allie’s decisions.
Extreme profanity used frequently.
Allie worries that being a virgin is preventing her from having a relationship with the boy she loves. She decides to have sex with a random boy to get it over with (the event is only briefly described) and afterward wonders if now sex is what boys will expect to get from her. There is another brief scene in which she has sex.
I loved that Ramey didn’t shy away from the pressure that Allie felt. She wanted to please everyone and be pleasing. She thought she could be desirable by having sex with a boy. It didn’t really work out that way, though. She had a lot of confusing feelings to work through. She does a lot of soul-searching through the story and definitely has more self-respect and confidence by the end. I thought the whole experience was very relate-able.
Allie’s mom is addicted to Xanax. Her sister Leah overdosed on meds when she killed herself. Allie drinks alcohol at a party. Her friend and Leah smoke pot together. Leah bears some heavy consequences for this behavior. After Leah’s death, Allie begins experimenting with pills. One of Leah’s friends offers to supply her with whatever she wants for free. There are consequences condemning Allie’s behavior, and eventually she does promise to quit.