by Francisco X. Stork

Scholastic, $17.99, 288 pages

Sisters Kate and Mary have never been what people in El Paso consider normal. They rarely leave home, dress oddly and have to spend their afternoons caring for their mother, who is in a persistent vegetative state. When their father dies, Kate and Mary are sent into a whirlwind of questions – where they will live, how they will survive and how they will care for their mother. The girls react to the loss differently – Kate disconnects from everyone and focuses only on her dream of leaving home and going to Stanford – and Mary tries desperately to keep things the same. Independently and together, the sisters learn what the true meaning of love and family.

Irises is a moving story about family, love and letting go. The novel starts out with a family already fractured and shows how they get further blown apart by the death of their father. The language is vivid and creates a haunting picture of grief and growth. The author deftly shows the sisters’ individual experiences and how they change and mature throughout the story. The characters are well-written, complex and intriguing. This is a story that will stay with the reader well past the end of the book.

Barbara Cothern