Title: The Secret Sisters Club (A Ginnie West Adventure, Book 1) | Author: Monique Bucheger | Publication Date:March 18, 2014 | Publisher: True West Publishing | Pages: 238 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 13 | Reviewed by: Renee and Danielle (Mother and Daughter)
Summary: Twelve-year-old BFF’s Ginnie and Tillie, want to be sisters. Tillie’s divorced mom plus Ginnie’s widowed dad could equal a lifetime of round-the-clock girl talk and slumber parties. Too bad Dad vowed to never marry again. Ginnie and Tillie form a secret club. They come up with the perfect mission to change his mind: ‘Operation Secret Sisters’.
Before long, Tillie seems happier about gaining a dad than a sister. Ginnie suspects Tillie has turned ‘Operation Secret Sisters’ into a scam called ‘Operation Steal My Dad.’ Things get more complicated when Ginnie stumbles across her real mom’s hidden journals. Ginnie can finally get to know the mother she doesn’t remember and Dad doesn’t talk about.
When Dad discovers she has the journals, he takes them away. Ginnie needs to figure out what the big mystery is before her relationship with her father and her best friend are ruined forever.
1. What is the book about? This story is about two girls, Ginnie and Tiller, who want to be sisters. But Tillie seems to be wanting Ginnie’s Dad to be her Dad more than Ginnie wants Tillie’s Mom to be her Mom. Ginnie misses her Mom. Ginnie finds her Mom’s journal and hides them. She learns a lot about her Mom by reading them and from her Dad, at the end of the book.
2. What do you think of the book cover? I like the book cover, but the girls’ faces look like they are 10 years old.
3. What are your favorite parts of the book? I like how Ginnie and Tillie are very good friends and that they want to be sisters. I also liked the part where they went go-cart riding. It sounded fun.
4. Was there anything you didn’t like about the story? I didn’t like how Ginnie was mean to her friend Tillie for a while. Tillie wasn’t doing anything wrong.
5. Overall, what did you think about the book? I liked the story and I liked Ginnie and Tillie and their family. Their family was really nice.
6. Who do you think would like this book? I think girls would like this book, especially girls who like horses.
My Thoughts: The Secret Sisters Club introduces Ginnie West as a 12 year old girl a few years after her mother passes away in an horse-related accident. Ginnie and her best friend Tillie devise a plan to get Ginnie’s Dad and Tillie’s divorced Mom together so they can become real sisters. And so “Operation Secret Sisters” is born, aka, OSS.
As the girls move forward with their plan, Ginnie begins to experience mixed emotions about OSS, especially when she stumbles upon her mother’s old diaries which reveal a different side of the mother she barely remembers. The lines between family and friends becomes blurred as Ginnie seeks to learn more about her mother and thinks about the implications of having a new step-mother in her life.
As far as character development goes, I think most tween girls will be able to identify with Ginnie and/or Tillie. These girls are best buddies who care deeply for each other and who wish more than anything else to be sisters. I had a girlfriend just like that and I think most girls that age have a similar experience. The reader is taken along for a roller coaster ride of emotions experienced by both Ginnie and Tillie who both have to grapple with the loss of a parent (albeit, in very different ways).
One of the striking features of the story is the importance of family, including extended family. The story centres around the West family and involves not only Ginnie, her twin brother Toran, and her Dad; but there are a number of other important characters such as Great-Uncle Ben, uncle Jake, and cousin Violet for example. These are not just characters who flit in and out of Ginnie’s life, but they play an important role in her life (as well as the overall story). I just loved the West family and I loved the value placed on family in the book.
While I enjoyed the focus on family and the development and interaction amongst the characters, it is important to note that the main character Ginnie (and even Tillie) experienced tragedy in her life and she does spend a considerable amount of time exploring her feelings and emotions related to the loss of her mother. As an adult reader, I was asking myself whether tween girls, amidst the mountains of children’s books focused on fantasy and magical realism would enjoy a story that centers around “real life” and tragic events. There were definitely some heavy topics in the book, but I know that some tween and teen girls would love this type of story regardless.
My Bottom Line: The Secret Sister Club features solid writing, strong character development, and bittersweet moments as the main character and her best friend navigate tweendom, redefining the meaning of “family” along the way. This is a delightful start to a drama-filled story written for tweens and teens, The Ginnie West Adventures. I recommend this book and the series to tween and teen girls, ages 8 to 13.
* This book was provided to me by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest reviews. All opinions expressed are our own. *
About the Author: Monique Bucheger
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