Zen & Xander Undone, by Amy Kathleen Ryan (book review) – sisters forever, grief binds them still

Book cover of Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan published by Houghton Mifflin “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters” (Irving Berlin)

– but this ain’t no White Christmas happy tale, as the death of their mother sends teen sisters Zen and Xander careening through a summer of bad choices.

Add the letters and packages that arrive from their mother (yes, still dead)… let’s hope they can hold each other up as they tackle a mystery that they really shouldn’t try to solve.

Book info: Zen & Xander Undone / by Amy Kathleen Ryan. Houghton Mifflin, hardback 2010, paperback 2011. [author site] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Mom’s death, Dad’s retreat into his office, big sister’s over-the-limit new behavior – the summer before Zen’s senior year is spiraling down, fast.

If Zen could just keep her brilliant big sister from getting too crazy, then Xander will keep her scholarships and head off to a prestigious university, away from the grief that their mother’s death from cancer has cloaked across their lives.

If she could just get Dad to come out of his study and into the daylight, maybe he would go back to being a noteworthy professor, instead of an unshaven zombie-dad.

And if she could just center herself, then Zen could concentrate on preparing for her next black belt karate level, rather than using her skills to kick out against the guys luring her sister down the wrong paths.

And these letters from their dead mom that arrive on special days and holidays… when Zen and Xander check her lawyer’s office for some answers, they open up questions from their mother’s past.

Can their family revive itself during the sisters’ last summer together?
Will searching through their mother’s past ruin their future or rebuild it?
Death ain’t easy, but does living have to be even harder? (one of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

One thought on “Zen & Xander Undone, by Amy Kathleen Ryan (book review) – sisters forever, grief binds them still

  1. I’m compelled to read this. I’m always on the hunt for good YA books not pushed on my by publishers. I can see your blog will be very useful. Keep up the great work!

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