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The Orphan Sister

The Orphan Sister

  • reading group guide
Clementine Lord is not an orphan. She just feels like one sometimes. One of triplets, a quirk of nature left her the odd one out. Odette and Olivia are identical; Clementine is a singleton. Biologically speaking, she came from her own egg. Practically speaking, she never quite left it. Then Clementine’s father—a pediatric neurologist who is an expert on children’s brains, but clueless when it comes to his own daughters—disappears, and his choices, both past and present, force the family dynamics to change at last. As the three sisters struggle to make sense of it, their mother must emerge from the greenhouse and leave the flowers that have long been the focus of her warmth and nurturing.

For Clementine, the next step means retracing the winding route that led her to this very moment: to understand her father’s betrayal, the tragedy of her first lost love, her family’s divisions, and her best friend Eli’s sudden romantic interest. Most of all, she may finally have found the voice with which to share the inside story of being the odd sister out. . . .
Choose a format:
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451623680 | 
  • July 2011
List Price $15.00
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Read an Excerpt


When my sister Odette called to tell me Dad hadn’t shown up for rounds, my first guilty thought was that he’d had a heart attack on the Garden State Parkway, that his Benz had swerved, swiveled, and scraped against the railing near exit 142 until it flipped into the opposite lane like a beetle on its back, ready for the picking of crows. He’d fumbled for the aspirin he always kept in the cup holder, in a wood and silver pillbox he couldn’t unclasp when it mattered at last. Blood would mat the silvery-red mix of his still-thick hair, his eyes would be open, he’d be dead, and I’d... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Orphan Sister includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Gwendolen Gross. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


For as long as she can remember, Clementine Lord has always felt like the odd one out—“the unmated shoe”—when it comes to her relationship with her sisters. Although they are triplets, fraternal Clementine is not just genetically removed from the identical Olivia and Odette, but also different in every way imaginable: while Olivia and Odette manage bustling medical practices and prepare for motherhood, Clemetine struggles with her applications to veterinarian school and lives in her parents’ carriage house. But when a family secret threatens to unhinge the bonds that have been forged over the years, Clementine learns not only how deeply connected she truly is to her family, but also the changes she must make to break free from a tragedy in her past and move forward with her life and her relationships. In this story of sisterhood and sibling rivalry, of betrayal and unadulterated love, Gwendolen Gross has created an enduring novel that speaks to the complications and the pleasures of growing up, see more

More Books from this Author

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About the Author

Gwendolen Gross
Photograph © Chia Messina Photography

Gwendolen Gross

Gwendolen Gross is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, including The Orphan Sister and The Other Mother. She has worked with porcupines and kinkajous as a science demonstrator, on mountain tops as a naturalist, as an editor, opera singer, writing instructor, and mom. She lives in Northern New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and son.




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