Julia Reid is the older sister of Laura Reid.
Six years before the events of City of Swords, the Reids had been residing in Watford. Julia had been riding the back of a boy's motorcycle, without a helmet. When the motorcycle crashed, the boy was killed while Julia suffered serious head injuries. She was fourteen at the time.
After the accident, Julia was left in a coma, which she eventually came out of. However, she was left with permanent brain damage, which included leaving Julia at the apparent mental age of three. Laura reveals that Julia had initially looked the same, her "big sister. A pretty, lively teenager", but began to degrade over time and was eventually moved into a special hospital in the countryside. Laura's parents visit Julia at the hospital once a month, though Laura has not gone in a very long time.
The toll of Julia's condition was a deep emotional strain on James and Ellen, who eventually found it impossible to even talk about Julia at home; almost nobody outside the family even knew about Julia. As a result, Laura believed the only way to cope was to pretend as though Julia did not exist and that maybe it would have been more fortunate if Julia had died, realizing that not everyone could be saved. Laura soon exhausted herself trying to live up to her parents' hopes and expectations for both herself and Julia, which became the reason for why she began self-harming to relieve her own stress.
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