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Sister Crazy Hardcover – April 24, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (April 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375421084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375421082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,268,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What does it mean to be terminally, madly in love with your family? Jemima Weiss, the narrator of this nervy, inspired debut novel, knows very well the perils of the condition. She has never quite recovered from an imperfect but dangerously idyllic childhood, and in her stream-of-consciousness tale she loses herself in the lush lexicography of family. She is the middle child of five, born in the early `60s to an irascible Jewish sportswriter father and a gorgeous, serene Protestant mother who relocate from England to Canada when Jem is 11. Transatlantic and sophisticated, but also na‹ve and slightly wild, Jem and her siblings speak their own coded language, full of in-jokes and rambling free association (" `Agnus Dei,' says Ben. `Paschal lamb. Lamb to the slaughter.' `Mary had a little lamb!' I say"). Ben, the eldest, has what the family calls a gothic sensibility; Gus, the youngest, is a golden boy. Jem loves them both, but her deepest, most complicated feelings are reserved for scattered, ethereal Harriet, three years younger and her special charge, and silent, stalwart Jude, her beloved almost-twin. Vignettes strung together according to Jem's private logic allude to her education at different convent schools, the WWII games she plays with Jude, her fascination with St. Francis of Assisi (who "called everything Brother this and Sister that"). Throughout, hints dropped by an adult Jem reveal that "Sister Crazy" is not just a play name. As she grows up, Jem lapses into madness, tormented by the loss of the intimacies of childhood. Richler (daughter of the Canadian writer Mordecai Richler) perfectly channels Jem's wise-child voice. Though her narrative does not quite achieve the crystal clarity of Salinger's Glass family stories, she captures the allure and subtle perils of a similarly intense, hothouse upbringing.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

In these interconnected stories, which have the spiky specificity of memoir and the layered nuance of fiction, four charming siblings journey into adulthood while their middle sister is left behind—in a netherworld brightened by the lure of sharp objects and the glow of the filled wineglass. But, unlike most tales of family dysfunction, Richler's is a romance, a dense mythology of Westerns and Arthurian loyalties and perplexing Catholic rituals; adult life pales, almost fatally, in comparison. Comic, poignant, and terrifying, these unusual stories expose the dangers of loving one's loving family too much to break free of it.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Gaia Fishler on March 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is not an awful book. It has interesting characters, an intriguing background, an unusual voice and lots of good intentions. But here's a lesson for new writers: all of the above is not enough for a good book.
One thing that this book lacked was a focus. A story doesn't need to be linear to be good, but it does require a thread. It needs to bring the reader to a certain point, to gain something that for a lack of a better word I'll call an insight. It doesn't happen here. I struggled with this book for weeks until I was able to finish it. The writing had too much stream of conscious that didn't cover the absence of a plot. I guess that the book can be called half-baked. A good editor might have been helpful in making this into something that gives the reader more than the sense of relief that it's over upon finishing it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amon on October 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Honestly I cannot decide if I like this book. The descriptions of her family is engaging and I did enjoy the characters. The thing is when I think back on having read the book, I do not feel like I got anything out having read it. There just is no progression. While reading I kept thinking that the author was using her memories of her past to explain something, but it never comes to pass.
The feel of the book is similar to frequently listening to a friend ramble on about her childhood. You just get to the point of saying enough already!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pasiphae on July 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This scattershot plotted book is charming, funny, haunting, but is it a novel? You will adore the characters. Jem examines her family through the filters of medeival history and her somewhat skewed understanding of physics, with charming conclusions drawn. Her compilation of "evidence" as to just who and what her mother is (possibly a Druid, possibly a good witch) is especially entertaining. The wordplay between her and her brothers, "Rule 28," and her poetic descriptions of Harriet, her fey sister, make you want to move in with this family. But the book is circuitous and anecdotal, and the glimpses of the modern Jem leave the reader troubled, but with no answers. I was left feeling like a distraught neighbor, wringing my hands and saying, "But they were such a lovely family! What happened to poor Jem?"
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Erin B. on September 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
I've read the reviews of this book from readers across the country. Its clear that more than half of them did not understand this book and were made very uncomfortable by the writer's form and style.

This is a wonderful book that shows the intricacies and inevitabilities of family love and devotion, and the damage that both can create.

I know this "review" gives you no feeling for the plot of the book - I only wish people would read and enjoy this book, and not pay attention to the dilettantes who pretend to be experts on Ms. Richler's work.
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