Sister Crazy is an extraordinary debut from Emma Richler (daughter of Canadian author Mordecai Richler), which is both deeply moving and wonderfully humorous. Jemima Weiss is the middle child of a family of five and she is the centrepiece of this novel. Using a stream of consciousness, she narrates in seven non-linear chapters the story of her life with and love for her parents and siblings. Although such reverence is not unusual, Jemima is completely and utterly in love with her family and her unwavering devotion to them is ultimately her downfall, as she cannot let go of the past.
In between tales of her gun-slinging cowboy father, her beautiful mother - whom Jem believes is a good witch like the one in 'The Wizard of Oz' - her brothers Ben, Jude and Gus and little sister Harriet (one of the most entertaining characters you will ever come across), Jemima reveals herself to be lost in her adult life, mentally unstable and yearning for that sense of belonging and intimacy she enjoyed as a child.
With a vivid imagination and an obsession with Action Man, Westerns and the nuns at her convent school, Jemima Weiss's is a truly entertaining and marvellously vibrant story, made all the more tragic by her downward spiral into madness in her adult life.
Although this is not an easy read by any means – the stream of consciousness style requires considerable concentration from the reader and the story is remarkably intense and dark in places – you will be fascinated by Jem and her family from the first chapter and will find yourself drawn to their enchanting private world.