Books · REVIEWS

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

gem-dixie

“I don’t have the power to be responsible for every single person in the world.”

Gem & Dixie is the new novel from renowned young adult author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr—a deep, nuanced, and gorgeously written story about the complex relationship between two sisters from a broken home.

Gem has never known what it is to have security. She’s never known an adult she can truly rely on. But the one constant in her life has been Dixie. Gem grew up taking care of her sister when no one else could: not their mother, whose issues make it hard for her to keep food on the table; and definitely not their father, whose intermittent presence is the only thing worse than his frequent absence. Even as Gem and Dixie have grown apart, they’ve always had each other.

When their dad returns for the first time in years and tries to insert himself back into their lives, Gem finds herself with an unexpected opportunity: three days with Dixie, on their own in Seattle and beyond. But this short trip soon becomes something more, as Gem discovers that to save herself, she may have to sever the one bond she’s tried so hard to keep.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr has written her most personal and affecting book yet—an unforgettable story of breaking apart and of coming together again.

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Personal Thoughts:

Sara Zarr explores the relationships of two sisters who both grew up in a dysfunctional family in this upcoming contemporary novel, Gem & Dixie.

Gem is three years older than Dixie. And being the older one, her instinct is to take care of her younger sister. She used to be Dixie’s protector until the two steps into their own separate lives. They still live in the same house with their mother but they aren’t exactly close anymore. They don’t even agree with lots of things. They rarely converse at home nor at school. They never bond anymore. When their Dad suddenly return to their lives, Dixie and Gem find themselves together running away from home. How long they can manage to stay together?

Gem as a narrator is easily accessible inspite of being a loner. Her internal monologues and letters about her past shows real struggles of living a life with no adult role in it. As she desperately tries to get out of the her messy life, readers will surely feel and even ache for her.

Sara Zarr successfully shows in this novel how Gem and Dixie navigates their relationship as sisters, as well as the family dynamics that made these two who they are. The absentee parents, poverty and other difficult things that Gem and Dixie has to deal with everyday of their lives push them into different directions and hardened them like no other girls their age.

“When you have a shared experience with someone who showed you some kindness when you needed it most, it sticks with you.”

Ultimately, this novel is about the relationship between two sisters, Gem and Dixie. But what I find more interesting is how Sara Zarr shows the contrast between two individuals. Gem and Dixie have the same home situations. They basically have the same issues and problems, but these two girls cope up with their lives differently. Gem becomes a loner who talk to school psychiatrist while Dixie charms her way to survive everyday.

Sara Zarr reminds us in this novel, how unique and different people are, even those with the same life circumstances. Sometimes we tend to compare our lives with other people but in reality even we have the same position with others we won’t exactly get the same life.

All in all, Gem & Dixie is a quick and heart-rending read. Sara Zarr takes a simple yet emotionally difficult story of two sisters and let the readers brave the reality of their situations.

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* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Balzer + Bray an imprint of HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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