From Publishers Weekly
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." (Nov.) (c)
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This anthology of essays focuses on a subject about which Freud himself didn’t have much to say: siblings. Selected and edited by Albert (How This Night Is Different, 2006; The Book of Dahlia, 2008), the collection examines the ins and outs of sibling relationships. Albert herself confesses to having somewhat of an obsession with brother and sister dynamics, which may be because she is a self-described refugee from her own dysfunctional family. The meat of this anthology comes from authors from all walks of life examining the role their brothers and sisters, or lack thereof, played in their early lives. Some describe the pristine happiness of their upbringings, while others lament their emotionally challenging, occasionally scarring, and on rare occasion, violent childhoods. Contributors include Steve Almond, Rebecca Wolff, Peter Orner, Lauren Grodstein, Joanna Hershon, and Victor LaValle. The pace of this collection is quick and the editing tight, ultimately resulting in a fine-tuned, poignant, insightful, and often funny looking glass into the realm of siblings. --Julie Hunt