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Originally published Thursday, October 16, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Book review

"I See You Everywhere": Feuding sisters connected at the heart

Julia Glass' novel "I See You Everywhere" tells the story of two sisters who are brought together after years of estrangement. Glass reads Tuesday at the Seattle Public Library.

Special to The Seattle Times

Author appearance

Julia Glass

The author of "I See You Everywhere" will read at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Microsoft Auditorium of the Seattle Public Central Library. Free; co-sponsored by the Elliott Bay Book Co. (206-624-6600; www.elliottbaybook.com) and the Washington Center for the Book (206-386-4636; www.spl.org).

"I See You Everywhere"

by Julia Glass

Pantheon, 304 pp., $24

Sibling rivalry is at the center of the latest offering by Julia Glass, winner of the National Book Award ("Three Junes"). The new novel also examines the broader theme of family bonds. Told from alternating viewpoints, the episodic story spans a period of 25 years.

Louisa and Clem are siblings who never get along and who even resort to stealing boyfriends from each other. Louisa, the older sister, is a denizen of New York's art world. Clem, a wildlife biologist, is out in nature and concerned about endangered species.

As the book opens, the death of their father's great-aunt Lucy brings them together. Lucy's free spirit seems to have rubbed off on Clem, who is rebellious and easily attracts attention from men. Louisa secretly envies Clem and suspects she's a favorite of their mother.

"I want to outshine her," Louisa muses. "I want to be the wiser, the smarter, the better loved, but I want to keep an eye on her. She is, after all, irreplaceable."

Over the years, Louisa switches her career from art to writing and marries, but the marriage doesn't last. Clem, although never lacking for male companionship, remains single. The siblings continue to live far apart, but somehow manage to stay in touch, all the while failing to express their hidden affection for each other.

Then misfortune strikes each in different ways at different points in time. A question that arises from the ensuing soul searching is this: What does it take to rescue someone who is dear to us?

There is a constant danger that this story, with its recurrent theme of feuding between the sisters, will become monotonous. But such is the power of Glass' writing that we glide along with her. A deft twist at the end makes for a most moving finish.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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