Sister Carrie is a short work of literary fiction penned by author William H. Coles which focuses on relationships and psychology in a dangerous and destructive world. The novella features two sisters, orphaned and searching for acceptance in the wider world. When one sister begins a relationship online, the other older sister is filled with concern. She struggles with the parental role, feeling lost and lonely herself, and this struggle turns into a fraught tension between the pair as she views this affair and the man in question with a critical but somewhat naïve eye. All three of them seem headed for disaster throughout the tale.
Sister Carrie isn’t as developed and complex a tale as much of William H. Coles’s work is, but the story itself carries an intriguing message and some important questions following the reading experience. I found the dialogue particularly compelling in this novella, really telling of the relationship between the sisters and their psychological difficulties in being orphaned. The bond they share is well analyzed and torn apart by their circumstances, and the idea of compatibility in relationships is strongly foregrounded. As always, Coles produces very strong descriptions throughout that bring the tale to life, but the plot and actions of the characters are a little truncated due to the tale’s brisk pace, which may make the reading experience confusing for some. Overall, however, Sister Carrie is well written and innovative in its literary exploration of the nature of relationships, making it a rewarding read.