Woman sitting on railroad tracks

They call her “Sister Reliability,” or so she says; and I suspect that they really do call her that. However, she’s not very reliable—at least not as a narrator.

In the novel Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell, the protagonist sets out to solve a mystery. She presents her actions as if they are logical, and yet many of them are counterproductive to her goal . . . or even dangerous to herself or others. The real mystery of the novel turns out to be the reader’s quest to figure out what is actually going on, since the narrator cannot be counted on to present an accurate picture of reality.

Yet, despite her faults, the protagonist is interesting, lovable, and insightful. I can’t help admiring her confidence and determination in navigating the world, even if her worldview is skewed.

Half of me wants to reach out and help her: she could really use some care! But the other half suspects that she needs no help, after all. Must we live our lives logically and cautiously? Must we follow all the dictates of society?

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