“She promised to be good. She wasn’t.”
― Justine Larbalestier, My Sister Rosa
What if the most terrifying person you’d ever met was your ten-year old sister? A spine-chilling psychological thriller from one of Australia’s finest YA authors.
‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’
I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito.
As far as I know.
Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control.
Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?
My Sister Rosa will have you on the edge of your seat from the very first page to the last.
Eden: I don’t even know what I expected from this book. I went in knowing it was about a creepy little sister and when I finished I felt like I Rosa (that creepy little sister) was my soulmate. This speaks highly to who I am as a person, I’m sure. Justine Larbalestier is a phenomenal writer and crafted a book that keeps you on your toes. I gave it 5/5 stars.
Caitlynn: This book was just something that I was not expecting at all. I loved everything about it and want so much more from these characters that Larbalestier created. My Sister Rosa gave me so much more than I was expecting and added a whole new level to the psychological thriller/young adult genre for me! 5/5 stars.
Jenn: This book was so damn good! It was engaging and entertaining that it made it a really easy read. This book is quite long but honestly the reading experience felt as though it went quickly. I love this genre. My favorite character in this book was Rosa, yes the sociopath, because she was unapologetically who she was. I can’t wait to read more by Larbalestier. 5/5 stars
Caitlynn: So how did we like My Sister Rose?
Eden: I thought it was really good, I gave it 5 stars.
Jenn: I gave it 5 stars, I loved it.
C: Me too.
C, cont.: Ok, I have to know, who was your least favorite character in the book?
E: Sally! Sally, always fucking Sally. Why? Because Sally was complacent and was more like “If I act like it doesn’t exist, then everything’s okay!” Sally was an awful character, I hate Sally. I wish Sally was the one to die.
C: I also didn’t like David.
E: I didn’t care about David one way or the other.
C: I felt like he was almost a cop out for Rosa’s actions, like instead of Rosa being a true psychopath without any adult influence on her.
J: My least favorite characters were his friends back home and their text messages, they were really annoying.
E: They were!
C: So boring.
E: I didn’t give a damn about Georgie, Nazeem seemed awful and Jason…
C: I liked Georgie the most, but that doesn’t mean I truly enjoyed their interactions.
J: He kept talking about how he missed home so much, but then it was like, you mean you missed these people that’s unfortunate.
E: Early on in the book, how did you guys feel about Rosa?
J: I loved her the whole time.
C: The whole book?
J: The whole book, yeah. I think she was funny.
E: I thought her reasoning behind the whole guinea pig thing with Apinya was pretty logical. She convinced her to kill the guinea pig, but the reasoning behind if she really loved the guinea pig she wouldn’t have killed it. True!
J: I’m glad she made the guinea pig die, b-…
[Interlude of trying to calm Caitlynn’s crazy loud guinea pig, because he obviously had something to say about Jenn’s statement…]
J: I’m glad that Rosa is able to talk people into to doing things… Like Seimone with the peanut butter. I like that you can’t argue that those things aren’t fucked up, like she really wanted to see bad things happen to people. Except, I totally don’t think killing bugs is a good indicator of anything…
E: I told Jenn about the time that someone told me that if you pour salt on a slug, they will shrivel up and the next time I saw a slug, I dumped a bunch of salt on him and cried so bad when I saw what happened to him!
C: I believe that, Eden.
J: I killed so many ants with magnifying glasses when I was little.
C: The part where Rosa says something about liking the sounds that they make when they die was a little much for me…
J: But have you ever witnessed something so satisfying? It’s great, catching ants on fire is great fun, but it doesn’t make somebody a sociopath.
C: I mean… coming from the sociopath of our group… it doesn’t make me feel any better.
C, cont.: Moving on… what did y’all think about the relationship between Che and Sojourner?
E: Honestly, I didn’t really care.
J: I liked her. I wish I would have gotten more of her perspective and not Che’s.
E: I wish she would have known about Rosa earlier and it not end up being the cop-out of their relationship. I think that would have been an interesting dynamic that we could have seen.
J: I thought Rosa was going to kill her.
E & C: Me too!
C: I really enjoyed her belief system.
E: Nobody is truly evil, everybody can be saved.
C: Exactly, and the purity culture that they examined with loveless sex being the sin, not just sex.
E: I agreed with that, but I did feel like she got really preachy sometimes which I didn’t like.
E, cont.: You know who I really liked and wanted more of? Leilani. She was an interesting and cool character that I wish we would have had more from.
J: I like that Larbalestier found a good balance of introducing these characters that weren’t white, heterosexual characters without making them a gimmick or a token character.
J, cont.: Like Sojourner and Leilani, she was so much more than her race and her friends were so much more than their gender or sexuality. It brought up the whole fetish culture and made sure the characters were actually individuals and not stereotypical.
E: I thought Rosa was hilarious. I got a little irritated with her because she was being a pain in the ass just to be a pain in the ass.
J: And I mean, she is a 10 year old.
E: There were points where you were literally seeing a 10 year old, but then other points where she’s doing Calculus.
J: “I win.” That was my favorite part with the passport.
C: Yes, this is our introduction to this character? I felt Che’s irritation but at the same time I was totally cheering on Rosa.
E: Che’s paranoia totally rubbed off on me. The more paranoid that Che got the more paranoid I got.
C: Like the pug anxiety tweet that I sent out, when Rosa tells Che that Sojourner is afraid of heights.
E: I loved that I was texting you guys, like “Two people I’m concerned for their lives: May & Sojourner.”
C: I really liked Maya. Larbalestier did such a great job with these characters. I really felt connected to them.
E: I felt like Maya was the only true voice of reason in this story. She wasn’t rage filled towards Rosa. She was just a sad 11 year old.
C: Like the part the Maya hugged Che in the coffee shop and he realizes that wasn’t something Rosa would ever do.
E: And the part at dinner when Maya was just leaning against her mother while Rosa and Seimone were together.
C: She seemed like a truly sweet and innocent little girl.
E: I think she was our most normal character.
J: I didn’t care about her. I was just like “eh” about her. I didn’t find her affection endearing.
C: The affection for me, was what made her feel more sincere to me.
E: She was the polar opposite of Rosa. She felt everything and meant what she was saying.
J: I didn’t feel a connection to Maya.
C: The characters in this were phenomenal. There were such small glimpses into all of the characters lives but we still felt so much.
E: The characters were so true to their ages, too. The characters were fantastically written.
C: I wouldn’t change anything about this book, I loved everything about it!
J: I would love to read a spin-off of this book of David’s time as a child with his dad and uncle and his first murder.
C: I would like it, but like with this book Che’s description of Rosa really got to me sometimes, like I was sick of how he kept using the checklist for her.
E: I feel like Che was just picking and choosing things about Rosa to make her a psychopath.
J: It is hard to deviate once you labelled someone as mentally ill. Everything they do is going to be part of that mental illness. If Che would have given her a chance…
C: Like the whole thing with the peanut butter! If Che would have given her a chance…
J: I totally think that Rosa encouraged the peanut butter situation but I don’t think she forced Seimone.
J, cont.: I feel like it was almost like a self-fulfilling prophesy for Che, like he noticed this one instance when she was young and diagnosed Rosa and because he treated her as a psychopath she followed the path that he was expecting for her. And because their parents were so distant so Che was her only link to normalcy.
C: Yeah, like as a child you look to your parents of how to act and socialize and she didn’t have that.
J: She noticed that Che was pulling back from her so she changed because of that.
E: All I know is that we had a very biased narrator. I was weary to say that Rosa really was a psychopath. Like the plane situation, she was acting like a normal 10 year old to me, while Che was freaking out about her.
E, cont.: Once we got to the guinea pig issue, I thought a little differently. But when Rosa was a toddler and Che made her promise not to kill. I just thought it was Che just going to far.
J: It’s like when a bad kid gets labelled as a bad kid. They feel like that’s all that they can be, so they don’t try to change people’s perspective they just eventually become that person.
E: I still just hate Sally. Even at the end, when Che and Rosa were like “what are we going to do now” and she says “my sister will let me stay there.” Like what about the whole family?! Like what good parent focuses solely on themselves and not even include the children.
J: The parents jumped out at me as like the new-age parents that are like “call us Sally and David because we are equal to you and don’t want to assign gender roles and identities to ourselves by calling us mom and dad, be nothing but yourself.”
E: And then they are like boxing is too violent…