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My Sister Rosa
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My Sister Rosa
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"Beats The Silence of the Lambs for suspense—it's the kind of book that had me literally gasping aloud as it rattled to its incredible conclusion."—Cory Doctorow, New York...
"Beats The Silence of the Lambs for suspense—it's the kind of book that had me literally gasping aloud as it rattled to its incredible conclusion."—Cory Doctorow, New York...
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  • "Beats The Silence of the Lambs for suspense—it's the kind of book that had me literally gasping aloud as it rattled to its incredible conclusion."
    —Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Homeland

    What if the most terrifying person you know is your ten-year-old sister?

    Seventeen-year-old Aussie Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa. But he’s also certain that she’s a psychopath—clinically, threateningly, dangerously. Recently Rosa has been making trouble, hurting things. Che is the only one who knows; he’s the only one his sister trusts. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is and the manipulation she’s capable of.

    Their parents, whose business takes the family from place to place, brush off the warning signs as Rosa’s “acting out.” Now that they have moved again—from Bangkok to New York City—their new hometown provides far too many opportunities for Rosa to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Che’s always been Rosa’s rock, protecting her from the world. Now, the world might need protection from her.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Chapter One
     
    Rosa is pushing all the buttons.
         She makes the seat go backwards and forwards, the leg rest up and down, in and out, lights on, lights off, TV screen up, TV screen down.
         We’ve never been in business class. Rosa has to explore everything and figure out what she’s allowed to do and how to get away with what she isn’t.
         The flight attendants love her. Flight attendants always love Rosa. Most strangers do. She’s ten years old with blonde ringlets, big blue eyes, and dimples she can turn on and off like, well, like pushing a button.
         Rosa looks like a doll; Rosa is not a doll. She’s in the window seat, which means there’s me between her and any potential victims. For the moment she’s enjoying the buttons. She can get lost like that, pushing buttons, counting sand, calculating angles, figuring out how things work, how to make them work for her.
         I’m hoping she’ll be distracted all the way to New York City. It’s not a strong hope. The flight is long: Rosa will get bored, she’ll look for ways to make trouble without Sally and David, our parents, finding out. That’s the game she plays. My job is to stop her.
         Business class will keep her occupied longer than economy ever did. It is pretty sweet. I can stretch out. When I reach forward I can barely touch the seat in front. Nothing bangs into my knees. If only there were a gym. If only the plane was headed home to Sydney.
          “I wonder how hard it would be to open the emergency exit.” Rosa is staring at the safety card.
          “For you? Impossible. You’re too small. Besides, no one can get them open when a plane is in flight.” I don’t know if that’s true. I’m sure Rosa will look it up later and tell me.
         “What about setting the plane on fire?”
         She wouldn’t be saying any of this if Sally and David could hear. But they’re in the row in front of us and the low hum of the engines swallows our words. I can hear everything Rosa says, the click and buzz of the buttons she pushes, the creak of her seat, and she can hear me; but we can’t hear anyone else’s words and no one can hear ours.
         “Che.”
         “Yes, Rosa?”
         Is she going to ask about blowing up the plane?
         “I wish we’d stayed in Bangkok.”
         I doubt that. Rosa never seems to care where in the world the parentals drag us: New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, back home to Australia. It’s all the same to her.
          “Six months wasn’t enough for you?” Six months is a long time for us to stay anywhere.
          “I’ll miss Apinya.”
          I cut a look at Rosa but say nothing. Apinya is not going to miss her. Not after what Rosa made her do. When we said our farewells Apinya clung to her mother, crying, and refusing to let go. Her parents thought she was distraught at losing Rosa. I knew it was because Apinya was scared of her.
          Rosa turns back to the buttons, pushing each one over and over. She’s waiting for me to tell her to stop. That’s not going to happen. I plug my headphones into...

About the Author-

  • Justine Larbalestier is the Australian-American author of many novels, including the award-winning Razorhurst and Liar, which both received four starred reviews. Justine lives in Sydney, Australia, and New York City, though not at the same time. You can find her on Twitter @JustineLavaworm and her website, justinelarbalestier.com.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 19, 2016
    When 17-year-old Che and his family move from Bangkok to New York City, his biggest concern isn’t adjusting to a new country or making friends: it’s his 10-year-old sister, Rosa. Originally from Australia, Che’s family never stays in one place for long, constantly on the move due to his parents’ work, but Rosa’s dangerous and calculating behavior is a terrifying constant. His parents brush off her actions, but Che is certain that manipulative Rosa is a diagnosable psychopath with a complete lack of empathy. While keeping a vigilant eye on Rosa, Che navigates life in N.Y.C., embarking on new relationships and going against his parents’ wishes to pursue boxing more seriously. Larbalestier (Razorhurst) offers a chilling contemplation on human morality—Che’s physical sparring in the ring has nothing on his go-arounds with Rosa, as they debate what it means to be truthful or “good”—while incorporating sharp commentary on privilege, faith, gender identity, and race. The tension of wondering where and how Rosa will strike next will keep readers riveted from start to finish. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

  • Kirkus

    "Do you think I'm the devil?"Seventeen-year-old Che thinks his 10-year-old sister, Rosa, might be worse than that. Rosa lies and manipulates others, steals, and tortures bugs--all for her own entertainment and curiosity--and her extreme behavior is increasing. Che's parents don't believe his claims about Rosa, so when they move to New York City, he has one goal: protect the city from his psychopathic little sister. As Che presents his research on sociopathy and personality disorders via conversations with Rosa, readers witness her malicious behavior, threats, and lies firsthand. Not one to shy away from tough subject matter, Larbalestier addresses issues related to gender, sexual orientation, religion, identity, and race with tact. Though narrated by an Australian white male, diversity abounds in the novel, effortlessly sharing the pages with the riveting plot as it builds to a frightening climax. Che is in love with his "very dark-skinned" boxing mate, a girl named Sojourner (who also happens to have two moms). In a particularly brilliant set piece, Leilani, who's part Korean and a lesbian, and Elon, an androgynous black character, force Che to contemplate his interracial relationship by addressing the fetishization of black women. This dark thriller is the 1956 film The Bad Seed meets 2016; readers will be simultaneously terrified when Rosa's present and afraid to let her out of their sight. (Thriller. 14 & up) COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2016

    Gr 9 Up-When Che is forced to move from Australia to the United States, he has two things on his mind: find a new boxing gym and keep the world safe from his sister Rosa. For almost as long as she's been alive, Che has known that something is not right with her. Callous, indifferent, fascinated by pain, she is a threat to all those around her, whether or not her parents see it. When their lives collide with old family friends, Che struggles to keep Rosa in line at the same time as he's experiencing his first love. A tense, thrilling rumination on the psychology of evil, this work manages to keep a suspenseful tone while also showcasing a burgeoning romantic relationship. There are also a wide variety of nuanced and complex diverse characters in Che's New York City neighborhood. Rosa is a truly chilling figure, seemingly unpredictable in her violence yet methodical in her manipulations of those around her. VERDICT While the sexual content and sadistic main character make it a better choice for older readers, the book is a worthwhile selection for YA collections.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    October 15, 2016
    Grades 9-12 Don't let her dimples, golden ringlets, and preternatural knack for mathematics fool you: Rosa, 10, is a ticking bomb, and Che, her older brother and sole confidant, is the only one who knows it. Since moving from Bangkok to New York City for their parents' latest business venture, Rosa's symptoms ( charisma, callousness, and disinhibition on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist) and mounting interest in extreme manipulation have only intensified. But after Rosa's intimate connection with a family friend turns potentially lethal, Che resolves to expose her for what she is. Yet, in confronting Rosa's sinister tendencies, Che not only comes face-to-face with his family's dark past but also a few grim secrets of his own. While Larbalestier's agenda is at times too ambitious in its scopeattempts to tackle religion, race, gender, and social class are frequent and can feel forcedreaders are sure to relish Che's first-person narrative, flecked with self-deprecating humor, conflicted compassion, fiery female leads, and a walloping dose of romance. A captivating exploration of family, fate, and the fight to outrun them.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

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