Relationships with our siblings stretch, as an old saying has it, all the way from the cradle to the grave. Few bonds in life are as significant, as formative, as lasting, and as frequently overlooked as those we share with our brothers and sisters.
In this stellar, first-of-its-kind anthology, contemporary writers explore the rich and varied landscape of sibling experience, illuminating the essential, occasionally wonderful, often difficult ways our brothers and sisters—or lack thereof—shape us. There are those who love and cherish their siblings, those who abhor and avoid them, and everyone in between.
The opportunity to explore relationships between siblings is rich with possibilities and fraught with dramatic moments, as 24 writers with blood siblings, half siblings, step siblings, and in one case, an imaginary sibling, write about their brothers and sisters with honesty, bravery, and no small amount of humor. Beginning the lineup is Steve Almond's (Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life) "The Brothers Grim," in which he entertains the reader as he tells one self-deprecating tale after another of his adolescent suffering at the hands of his brothers. In "Islanders," Eric Orner uses a graphic novel format to recount a teenage summer spent on Martha's Vineyard with his brother under the dark cloud of their parents' stormy relationship. The essays focus on the sibling bond of losing or caring for a parent; the loss of a sibling to sudden death or religious conversion; the arrival of new siblings through extramarital affairs or gender-reassignment surgery; and the unrequited longing for a sister, among other significant issues. At times, the selection and arrangement of the essays feels inconsistent, though there are plenty of standout essays such as Etgar Keret's "Ultra Orthodox Sister" and Daphne Beal's "The Age of Innocence."