Amen, Sister!

Date: 21 April 2013

Books Completed: 73

Books Left: 127

I recently read the hot off the presses Her, Christa Parravani’s memoir of her relationship with her identical twin Cara and how she dealt with Cara’s sudden death. It was a mesmerizing yet at times difficult book to read, and overall I’m glad I read it. As I added it to my list, I noticed (not for the first time) the abundant number of sister books I read—fiction and nonfiction, grown up and children’s. In the past twelve months, I’ve read 25 books alone that are either flat out about sisters or where the sisterly bond is a crucial element. Why do sister books fascinate me?

First, I suppose I should look to my relationship with my own sister. She is four years older than I, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t look up to her in some capacity. When we were younger it was like I had the plague—I was the annoying little sister and she didn’t seem to want much to do with me. By the time I was in high school, though, that changed and we became friendly, then friends. When I was in college I used to spend weekends at her place, and when I graduated we even were roommates until she got married. Later, we lived about 10 minutes away from each other and spent time together nearly every week. She and her husband have since moved away, so we are now geographically distant which has crept a bit into our emotional relationship. However, I know that she is there for me as I hope she knows I am for her.

The first sister book I remember reading was Little House in the Big Woods, when I was 7 or 8 years old. While the relationship between Mary and Laura is not the focus of the plot, the dynamic of their relationship certainly is important. I suppose at that time I both identified with Laura (the younger sister who, in her mind at least, did not quite measure up to the older one) and idealized the closeness of their connection (I was experiencing the “plague years” with my sister at the time).

I next encountered the March sisters in Little Women. This time the sister bond was more prominent and, to me, more intriguing.  I identified with each of the sisters in some way, and while they had their ups and downs, the March girls ultimately had a link with each other that was loving, steadfast, and strong. I’m guessing that subconsciously I was hoping that my relationship with my own sister would ultimately prove to be the same way.

So on and on it went (and still does). It’s to the point now where if I see any book about sisters I have to at least read the blurb to find out if it’s worth reading. Chances are if it’s about rival sisters I won’t pick it up. I have never seen my sister and me as rivals, and we certainly never had the pettiness, nastiness, and competiveness that is often present in those kinds of relationships. I can’t identify, don’t like people who are like that, so I steer clear of books portraying that. Sisters who appreciate each other, share similar interests, and ultimately have each other’s backs are far more appealing to me.

I’m not willing to say that in every sister book I read I am somehow relating as a sister, so what else captivates me? I think in the non-fiction sister books I am amazed that more than one sibling can have something worth writing/reading about. The Tudor sisters (the Scottish Queen and the French Queen as well as Mary I and Elizabeth I), the Stuart sisters, the Catons, the Austens, the Alcotts, Queen Victoria’s daughters, the Russian Grand Duchesses, the Mitfords, the Morgans, the ten Booms, the Kellys, the Lynns—each sister is remarkable, and the fact that these remarkable women have sisters equally remarkable simply enthralls me. As for the fictional sibs, whether they are the Bennets, the Dashwoods, the Dunnes, the Ingallses, the Marches, the Schlegels, the Pevensies, the Fossils, the Andreases, Cinderella and her steps, whomever, they each have their own interesting story and are an integral part of their sisters’ stories. Let’s face it: I’m hooked. Any wonder that the Aragon and Lennox sisters have a place in my To-Read list?