Book Review: Echo's Sister
Mosier, Paul. Echo’s Sister. Harper, 2018.
I am always interested in books that explore the “ripple effect” of traumatic events. This is what drew me to Paul Mosier’s Echo’s Sister. I knew the book explored the effect of a young girl’s cancer diagnosis on her older sister. Paul Mosier is also a Phoenix writer and there were a few signed copies at my local bookstore; I couldn’t help but snag one up.
Seventh grader Laughter is looking forward to reinventing herself at a new private arts academy. She decides she’ll go by “El”, for example, and she’ll say and do the perfect thing at all times. Although El’s first day goes well, her father comes to retrieve her at the end of the day bearing some life-changing news: El’s six-year-old sister, Echo, has been diagnosed with a rare form of oral cancer.
From that moment forward, El’s focus is no longer on her new school and identity. Instead, she worries incessantly about her sister. Food loses its taste and the world loses its color. She becomes withdrawn, friendless, and angry. But El’s English and Art teachers along with a mysterious new friend, Octavius, seem to take a particular interest in her life. Will El come to terms with her sister’s diagnosis?
As a former teacher, I couldn’t help but constantly think how perfectly this book would fit in any middle school/ early high school Language Arts curriculum. Not only is it an easy read, but it could springboard so many valuable conversations about important topics: family issues, financial issues, the price of healthcare, bullying, grief, etc. Mosier also does a fantastic job writing El’s grief in a quietly beautiful way. Her inability to taste anything, for example, brought tears to my eyes.
There were not many flaws in Echo’s Sister—it was quick, smooth read, with details that felt accurate and true-to-life. I hungered for some additional scenes involving Echo and El, but, on further reflection, the story is El’s alone. This is what makes Echo’s Sister a unique read and one that I highly recommend.