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About The Book

From the author of the The Great Unknowable End and Tash Hearts Tolstoy comes an “absorbing” (Kirkus Reviews), atmospheric novel about sisterhood, coming-of-age, and learning that it’s never too late to reconnect with those you love.

Time changes things.

That painful fact of life couldn’t be truer for the Sullivan sisters. Once, they used to be close, sharing secrets inside homemade blanket castles. Now, life in the Sullivan house means closed doors and secrets left untold.

Fourteen-year-old Murphy, an aspiring magician, is shocked by the death of Siegfried, her pet turtle. Seventeen-year-old Claire is bound for better things than her Oregonian hometown—until she receives a crushing rejection from her dream college. And eighteen-year-old Eileen is nursing a growing addiction in the wake of life-altering news.

Then, days before Christmas, a letter arrives, informing the sisters of a dead uncle and an inheritance they knew nothing about. The news forces them to band together in the face of a sinister family mystery…and, possibly, murder.

The Sullivan Sisters is an unforgettable novel about the ghosts of the past, the power of connection, and the bonds of sisterhood.


Chapter One: Eileen ONE Eileen
The letter arrived the morning of December twenty-first.

Eileen wasn’t expecting mail addressed to her. No packages, because she hadn’t ordered art supplies for two years. No Christmas cards, because who the hell sent those anymore? Extended family members, maybe—grandparents and great-aunts—but Eileen didn’t have those. She definitely wasn’t expecting a press-and-seal business envelope with a law office for a return address and a red-ink note on the flap that read, OPEN IMMEDIATELY.

Eileen was affronted. She didn’t take orders, especially not from goddamn attorneys and their red-ink pens. She had a bad history with letters, and she didn’t want to know what this one had to say—whether she opened it immediately or in ten years. So she threw the envelope out, dropping it in the trash can beneath her desk. Then she left the house for her Safeway shift.

Soon, she’d forgotten about the letter.

She forgot about a lot of things when she worked, and especially when she drank.

That was the point of both full-time occupations.

That night, back at home, Eileen was filled throat-high with Jack Daniel’s. She’d ended up horizontal on the floor of her converted-garage bedroom, and that’s how she found herself facing the trash can beneath her desk.

Music was playing on her boom box, fuzzy through the ancient speakers. “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses had been on repeat for half an hour. It was a terrible song. It was the best song. Eileen hummed along.

Her mouth tasted like regurgitated milk. It was gloomy outside—typical Oregon. Mom had left that afternoon for the Bahamas. But none of this bothered Eileen. She was numb to every bad thing. She wiggled her ankles to the beat of the music and, through blurry eyes, read the address of the trashed envelope.

Ms. Eileen Sullivan.

The “Ms.” really got to her. Ms. Eileen Sullivan. If those fancy attorneys could see her now.

Eileen pawed at the rim of the trash can, tipping it over and grabbing the envelope.

It was already opened, and Eileen didn’t remember doing that. Then again, she did a lot of unmemorable stuff when she was drinking.

She laughed at the envelope—at the “Ms.”—while tugging the letter out of its torn top.

Pretty soon, the laughing stopped.

About The Author

Photograph by Kathryn Ormsbee

Kathryn Ormsbee grew up with a secret garden in her backyard and a spaceship in her basement. She is the author of The Water and the Wild, The Doorway and the Deep, and The House in Poplar Wood and the YA novels Lucky Few, Tash Hearts TolstoyThe Great Unknowable End, and The Sullivan Sisters. She’s lived in lots of fascinating cities, from Birmingham to London to Seville, but she currently lives in Eugene, Oregon.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 18, 2021)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534420540
  • Grades: 7 and up
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews


"This outstanding story features three memorable characters, the right amount of suspense, and a vivid rendering of the complexities of sisterly love. Absorbing and statisfying."

– Kirkus Reviews

"An engaging, rewarding, and realistic family drama for readers who enjoy juicy family secrets and murder mysteries."

– School Library Journal


"A sweet story told with intelligence, humor, and just the right amount of kissing."

– Kirkus Reviews, starred

"Winsome characters, crackling dialogue, and an effortlessly enjoyable writing style help this one stand out in the crowded contemporary YA marketplace."

– Publisher's Weekly, starred


"Beyond refreshing."

– Booklist, starred

"Whip-smart, funny, flawed, and compassionate, these are characters readers will want to know and cheer for. A clever, thoroughly enjoyable addition to the growing body of diverse teen literature."

– Kirkus Reviews, starred


"Ormsbee pulls the reader into a state of desperate reading as they move forward to discover what will happen next."

– School Library Connection, recommended

"Realism with a hint of science fiction will inspire readers to question their own trajectories."

– Kirkus Reviews

Awards and Honors

  • Oregon Book Award Finalist

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More books from this author: Kathryn Ormsbee