Happy hump day, Savvy Readers! Today is National Siblings Day. You know how siblings teeter on the edge of best friend and nemesis? I can remember times when my brothers were my rocks through tough times but also times when they would repeat the nickname I hated in high-pitched voices and my rage began to build…
Anyway… We’ve got a great list of books for you about sibling relationships from these two extremes and everything in between.
- The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood
If you like your siblings identical, in groups of five and based on real people, you should read The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood.
The book follows at first reluctant midwife Emma Trimpany, when she assists at the harrowing birth of the Dionne quintuplets: five tiny miracles born to French farmers in hardscrabble Northern Ontario in 1934. Emma cares for them through their perilous first days and when the government decides to remove the babies from their francophone parents, making them wards of the British king, Emma signs on as their nurse. Over 6,000 daily visitors come to ogle the identical “Quints” playing in their custom-built playground; at the height of the Great Depression, the tourism and advertising dollars pour in. While the rest of the world delights in their sameness, Emma sees each girl as unique: Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Marie, and Émilie. With her quirky eye for detail, Emma records every strange twist of events in her private journals.
2. Woman 99 by Greer Macallister
For those you who have siblings who would do anything for you, you should read Woman 99 by Greer Macallister.
When Charlotte Smith’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte knows there’s more to the story than madness. She risks everything and follows her sister inside, surrendering her real identity as a privileged young lady of San Francisco society to become a nameless inmate, Woman 99. The longer she stays, the more she realizes that many of the women of Goldengrove aren’t insane, merely inconvenient. A historical thriller rich in detail, deception, and revelation, Woman 99 honors the fierce women of the past, born into a world that denied them power but underestimated their strength.
3. Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
For many, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to lose a sibling before you’re an adult. Cemetery Road by Greg Iles follows the story of a man still healing from the death of his brother and the long term effect it had on his whole life.
Marshall McEwan, well-known DC journalist, returns to his Mississippi hometown to care for his terminally ill father and face the unfinished business of his past. But by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history, he would give almost anything not to have to face it. On arrival, he finds Bienville, Mississippi very much changed. His family’s 150-year-old newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of a dozen powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Bienville Poker Club. To Marshall’s surprise, the Poker Club has taken a town on the brink of extinction and offered it salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But on the verge of the deal being consummated, two murders rock Bienville to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic future.
4. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
We don’t choose our family. The English brothers in Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black show how different two siblings can be.
When two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, they bring with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black – an eleven year-old field slave – is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But the man is not as Washington expects him to be; cruel like his brother. His new master is the eccentric Christopher Wilde – naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist – whose obsession to perfect a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed one fateful night, Washington is left to the mercy of his new masters. What follows is an escape along the eastern coast of America, as the men attempt to elude the brother running the plantation and the bounty that has been placed on Washington’s head. From the blistering cane fields of Barbados to the icy plains of the Canadian Arctic, from the mud-drowned streets of London to the eerie deserts of Morocco, Washington Black teems with all the strangeness of life.
5. The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
Tara Conklin’s The Last Romantics is a testament to the power and complexity of a family’s love; the ways they support each other, the ways they betray each other and the ways they knit back together bonds they have fractured.
In the spring of 1981, the young Skinner siblings—fierce Renee, dreamy Caroline, golden boy Joe and watchful Fiona—lose their father to a heart attack and their mother to a paralyzing depression, events that thrust them into a period they will later call “the Pause.” Caught between the predictable life they once led and an uncertain future that stretches before them, the siblings navigate the dangers and resentments of the Pause to emerge fiercely loyal and deeply connected. Two decades later, the Skinners find themselves again confronted with a family crisis that tests the strength of these bonds and forces them to question the life choices they’ve made and what, exactly, they will do for love.
6. The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean Pendziwol
Family isn’t always what we think it is and The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean Pendziwol shows us an example of this.
Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth’s eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father’s journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck. With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed.
7. Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
Being the middle child has its ups and downs (I can attest to this truth as a middle child!). But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. This moving novel addresses such important topics as adoption, teen pregnancy, and foster care.
8. The Better Sister by Alafair Burke (Coming Soon!)
Sometimes siblings drift apart, but The Better Sister by Alafair Burke is about traumatic circumstances that force two sisters to reunite and discover the importance of family.
Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be the one in charge. Nicky—always restless and more than a little reckless—was the opposite of her ambitious little sister. Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenage stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.