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Literature / Sisters... No Way!

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Sisters... No Way! is a novel by Irish author Siobhán Parkinson. A modern Cinderella re-telling, it's told in the unique form of two diary accounts for its protagonists.

Cindy Ellis is a fifteen-year-old girl whose mother has just died of an unnamed illness, and she's trying to get on with everyday life. That doesn't prove easy when one too many Crocodile Tears to get out of class lands her in with the school guidance counselor Margaret Magee. Margaret starts seeing her father more regularly, and the relationship soon becomes less about business.

We also get to hear the story from the perspective of Margaret's oldest daughter Aishling, who is a similar age to Cindy. She and her younger sister Alva notice how close their mother and Cindy's father are growing - and all three girls soon realise that there's a strong possibility they'll all become sisters. No Way!


This novel provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Cindy gets drunk during dinner and starts telling stories about the girls in her class. Aishling's narration states that Margaret found these stories very funny, probably because she knew all the girls.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Aishling and Alva's father Philip is this.
  • Alpha Bitch: Cindy's classmate Emma. She even at one point asks if Margaret sleeps in her mother's bed.
  • Amicable Exes: Margaret and Philip seem to be this at first. But then Philip drunkenly threatens to have Alva taken off her in a custody battle.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Alva, big time. Although Aishling still loves her, sometimes she's exasperated by her bratty behaviour.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Aishling in the early parts of her diary talks about trying to find her mother a boyfriend. Once she starts dating Richard, she immediately lampshades the irony.
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  • Bitch Alert: Aishling and Alva have this reaction when they first meet Cindy.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Imelda. Since she has no arms, it's easier for her to manage.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Alva, even though she's fourteen. Cindy's narration even says "she's a terrible baby for fourteen."
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Alva and Cindy. Averted with Aishling who is a very mature and reasonable sixteen-year-old girl.
  • By the Hair: During an argument at the breakfast table, Aishling grabs Cindy by the hair to calm her down. Cindy does something similar to Emma earlier in the book.
  • Cat Fight: Emma, one of Cindy's classmates, mocks Cindy for Margaret marrying her father. When she asks if Margaret sleeps in her mother's bed, Cindy loses it and attacks her.
  • Christmas Cake: Margaret. Richard is her first actual relationship since she split with Philip who has been with Naomi for at least three years.
  • Cool Aunt: Imelda, Richard's sister, is someone who always has time for Cindy and lets her stay over whenever she wants. Cindy even briefly imagines that she might live with her if Richard marries Margaret.
  • Crocodile Tears: Cindy uses these in her classes to avoid having to do complicated work. This backfires when she gets sent to the guidance counselor, and thus the story begins...
  • Daddy's Girl: Aishling mentions that Alva was this before their parents's divorce. Alva frequently demands to live with him.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Cindy and Aishling towards each other. The end of both diaries have them civil enough to each other.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: It's not said what illness Cindy's mother died of. The comparisons with cancer are drawn at some point, and Cindy says that her mother was beautiful before she got sick, so presumably it was cancer.
  • Dramatic Irony: If you read Aishling's diary first, then you'll immediately realize that Robbie, the guy Cindy meets in a bar, is her ex. If you read Cindy's first, then you'll clue in when he phones the house.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Aishling. She's pretty, popular, gets straight As and has a cute boyfriend.
  • The Ghost: Aishling mentions a best friend called Fidelma who never factors into any key scenes or moments.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Cindy assumes her friend Lisa has the perfect family, and is astonished when she realises it's not the case.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Cindy's best friend Lisa. She's fifteen.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite being a rebellious brat, Cindy is very intelligent, well-read, and gets very good grades.
  • Hot for Teacher: Cindy and her classmates have massive crushes on their English teacher Mr O'Donnell.
  • Hypocrite: Lampshaded by Cindy when she talks about how Margaret advises girls against unprotected sex as part of her job - and yet ends up pregnant herself.
  • I Have Many Names: Margaret isn't aware that she has about three nicknames among her students. It's Milly-Molly-Mandy at the beginning, and Cindy remembers it used to be Maggie-Maggie (before a third Maggie was added). Cindy herself christens her 'The Bay Tree' after her hairstyle.
  • Idiot Ball: Aishling finds a pregnancy test in the bathroom bin and immediately assumes that it belongs to Alva, her fourteen-year-old sister, as opposed to Margaret, who's in an actual relationship.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Aishling and Alva pride themselves on the two kilts they wear to dinner with Cindy and Richard - as well as getting matching pearl earrings with Margaret. Cindy's narration in the diary mocks them for looking silly.
  • Jerkass: Cindy, although her angry and cynical attitude is understandable, sometimes she goes too far and can be very unpleasant.
  • Lady Drunk: Cindy, actually, when she first has dinner with Margaret and her daughters. Cindy actually passes out at the table.
  • The Lost Lenore: Cindy's dead mother for her father.
  • Maybe Ever After: Cindy and Robbie/Bob. They do hit it off and could possibly see each other again. However it's doubtful considering Cindy is living with his ex.
  • Meaningful Name: Cindy - a young girl who gets a stepmother and stepsisters. Her last name is Ellis too. (Cindy Ellis = Cinderella).
  • Missing Mom: Cindy's mother died and the story starts just after her funeral.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Played with. Aishling finds a pregnancy test in the bathroom bin and assumes it's Alva who used it. But it's Margaret's instead.
  • Narm:invoked When Cindy is launching into her rant on Alva, she notes in her diary that the girl has an unintentionally funny reaction on her face.
  • The New Irish: Cindy's mother was an American living in Ireland.
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Cindy has nicknames for all her teachers - Aishling notes in her diary that they're not very original.
    • Alva nicknames Cindy "The Noxious".
    • Later in Aishling's story, we learn that she comes up with the nickname "Bob" (short for Robert) for her boyfriend and she and her family are the only ones who use this nickname. Everyone else, including Cindy, calls him Robbie.
  • Not So Above It All: Aishling. She comes off as the mature Nice Girl and Only Sane Woman, especially compared to Alva, but she was actually quite awful to her (ex-)boyfriend Bob, dumping him twice for little to no reason. Also when Margaret hears that her daughters have a nickname for Cindy, Aishling says "it's accurate..."
  • Perspective Flip: The two diary accounts.
  • Proper Lady: Cindy views Aishling as a modern example, referring to her as "Miss Prim".
  • Punny Name: Margaret Magee - Maggy Magee, Lampshaded by Cindy who wonders why her parents would call her that. Turns out it's her married name.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Discussed by Cindy in her diary. She remarks that once you hear a new word, you start to see it everywhere and wonder how you could possibly have lived without it.
  • Second Love: Richard and Margaret for each other. Also Margaret's ex Philip is now Happily Married to Naomi.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Aishling has this reaction when Cindy comes over to dinner for the second time. The first time she wears jeans and dirty shoes but the second time she wears a dress, does up her hair and puts on a lot of makeup. Ultimately subverted as Aishling thinks she overdid it.
  • She's Got Legs: Aishling has this reaction when Alva wears a short skirt. "[Alva] has a nice figure, she should show it off a bit more".
  • The Shrink: Margaret is a Type 2 - well meaning but doesn't really help Cindy.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Aishling is composed, mature and refined while Alva is loud, obnoxious and a complete brat.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Played with in regards to Bob/Robbie's choice of "snob" Aishling vs "slob" Cindy. Aishling is actually poorer than Cindy but is a lover of classical music and literature while Cindy is a more stereotypical teenager.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Discussed by Cindy. Her mother apparently wanted it to be spelt "Cyndi" but her father stopped her.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Cindy at one point puts on some of her mother's clothes, and when her father sees her he does a Double Take because she looks so like her.
  • Territorial Smurfette: Suggested with Cindy towards her father.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: Aishling reacts this way to Cindy's make-up at the second dinner. "Her make-up made you want to run for a face cloth".
  • Wedding Day: Richard and Margaret. Cindy doesn't go to the wedding at first but turns up at the end.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The first line of Cindy's diary. She takes offense to someone suggesting that her mother's death was a "happy relief". Her father explains he meant as in a happy release from the pain of her mother's illness but Cindy still finds it rude.
  • When She Smiles: Margaret's smile is her best feature. At one point Aishling notices how old she looks but then Margaret smiles and she relaxes. Cindy remarks "she's not a very attractive woman but she does have a nice smile".
  • Wicked Stepmother: Subverted of course. Margaret is shown in a complicated light and portrayed as a sympathetic character. Cindy hates her and doesn't want her as stepmother but admits she is a nice person.
  • Wild Teen Party: Averted. Aishling has a birthday party at the house and it turns out more like a formal ball than anything else.


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