My Sister's Ex

by Cydney Rax
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Reviewed by: Michelle Bishop
March 2010


My Sister’s Ex by Cydney Rax, despite its suggestive cover and title, is actually a novel with aspirations. Not nearly as overtly scandalous as one would expect from the title and cover art, My Sister’s Ex tells the story of half-sisters, Rachel Merrell and Marlene Draper. The book picks up at the point where Rachel discovers that her sister has started an affair with her ex-fiancé, Jeffrey Williams. Rachel is understandably upset over the situation and, as one might expect, drama ensues.

Interestingly enough, Rax does not simply leave this as the sister dating the ex drama it could be. She allows each sister to tell her side of the story directly to the reader using alternate chapters to reveal their convoluted past which helps to explain their strained relationship. We also learn a great deal about Jeffrey through the women’s telling of their own sides of the story.

As much as one may admire Rax’s efforts to make this more complex than the average she stole my man story, at times we get the sense that she has taken on too many issues. As a result, there is inconsistency in the theme throughout the book. One moment it seems that Rax’s novel is an examination of the complexity of sibling rivalry; the next moment it is a commentary on lying, cheating men. Just when we think we’ve gotten a grip on the men who lie and cheat deserve to die concept, we are hit with the women shouldn’t betray one another theme. Finally, and unfortunately as is typical of the modern urban novel, the women end up in church and life presumably is all better.

There are a couple of characterization flaws in the book that cannot be overlooked; for example, Rachel and Marlene do not always have distinct voices. They sound equally bratty and whiny as they argue over Jeffrey. The shift from Rachel’s point of view to Marlene’s is not always distinct enough; and, at times, we would be unable to tell who was speaking if it were not for the chapter headings.

Despite the whiny tone Rachel and Marlene share, My Sister’s Ex is an enjoyable read that requires little mental agility to keep up with the story. Rax gets a tad heavy-handed at the end with her over the top punishment for Jeffrey and the requisite church revival and penance scene at the end. Nevertheless, My Sister’s Ex is entertaining and, for some, will be thought-provoking.

What did you like best about the book?
The story, overall, was well-written and most scenes were well executed. Rax clearly has a good command of the elements of writing.

What did you dislike about the book?
I disliked the heavy-handed closing of the novel including the extreme way in which the situation with Jeffrey was resolved and the all too easy wrap-up in church where everyone has to be told how to behave.

How can the author improve this book?
Rax could have trusted her readers to draw the conclusions she wanted them to draw by creating a more complex ending for the story, thereby evoking more intellectual stimulation and the accompanying discussions that would have arisen, rather than taking the easy way out of having the church elders lay out the lessons of the story.


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