Author: Annabel Lyon
Pub. Date: Sep. 2020 (read Sep. 2021)
I picked up Consent at my local indie bookstore because it’s written by a Vancouver author. I was slightly deterred from purchasing because it has quite low ratings on goodreads, but the plot featured two sets of sisters and sounded really interesting to me, so I decided to go for it. Now that I’ve read it, I would say that Consent is one of those uniquely weird Canada lit books that really works for some people and doesn’t work at all for others. I admit I do like a good weird book and fortunately, this one worked for me!
It’s been a while now since I read it, so bear with me if some of the details are a little foggy. The book features two sets of sisters that briefly connect with each other within the story, but aren’t really related to one another. The first set of sisters, Sara and Mattie grow up in Vancouver in their large family home. Mattie has a cognitive disability and lives full time with their mother, while Sara goes off in search of a different life in Toronto. With the death of their mother, Sara begrudgingly returns to Vancouver to take care of Mattie.
The second set of sisters, Saskia and Jenny are about a decade younger and are twins. Despite their closeness, they lead very different lives and when Jenny is in an accident, Saskia begins to question everything about herself, her sister, and their relationship. It’s a character driven story that focuses primarily on Sara and Saskia and examines familial bonds and the effects of both grief and guilt. Both sets of sisters experience tragedy and discover they have a common link between them in the character of Robert, who was connected to each set of sisters.
I can see how this book wouldn’t work for a lot of people, for the most part, the characters are pretty unlikeable and have very questionable motivations, but I found it to be a really interesting character study and liked how different each sister was. Despite the strained relationships, each woman’s choices are guided by a sense of affection and I liked that the author delves into the complicated relationships that exist within many families. Skip this one if you need likeable characters, but check it out if you like character driven family sagas that examine some of the grey aspects of our psyche.