Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood Kindle Edition
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Reading this collection of works by women about that special bond women can form between each other, whether that connection is genetic or simply the proximity of neighborly, is not only illuminating: it is revelatory. Perhaps something men will never understand, really, truthfully. Being male crowds out such sensitive bonding, unless during combat on the battlefield.
What happens in this exquisite array of the spectrum of `sisterhood' is discovery of new poets and writers who deserve a louder voice, a chance to talk about women in ways too often usurped by whispering - those myriad details of owning homogametic XX chromosomes that attracts yet deeply, philosophically distances the XY gender. These are songs of linking, love, need, compassion, yearning for some semblance of sameness that make two women sisters.
A difficult task, but some excerpted examples follow:
Scrambled Eggshells - Jean Wong `As soon as Nancy appeared at the door of our eighth grade classroom, even I, with my home haircut, near-sighted squint and ill-fitting skirt, could see that she stuck out. Her hair was a tangle of kinky, sandy-blonde curls. She grimaced, exposing her big teeth as overly enthusiastic greetings gushed forth. Wearing dated clothes and straw shoes with high heels, she carried a matching purse. No one ever brought a purse to school. She was like a puppy wagging its tail among crocodiles. Her overtures were met with blank stares and titters. She was quickly relegated to our group of outcasts who suffered not so much from teasing, but the cruelty of being ignored.'...."Check this scene out!" we screamed. And this became our mantra. For years to come, we peered into mirrors, in bathrooms, department stores, plush hotel lobbies. At birthdays, graduations and every other conceivable situation, arms around each other, we posed. Check this scene out. Check out that we're hurting, ridiculous, high, miserable. Check out that we're alive and going through life together. Check out that we're friends.'
Unlikely Sisters -Karen Levy -`So where do our loyalties lie? I am an Israeli-American, a former member of the Israeli Defense Force and as anxious about the fate of my native country as I was when I lived there. Eman is a Muslim woman living in Israel, a woman whose neighbors were among those who had torched the nurses' station yelling "Death to Jews" on that sad day in 1976. But, as Eman emphasized during our first phone call, we are both children of Israel, and I know in my heart that it's not so easy to hate someone with whom you've giggled in front of a bathroom mirror. We are unlikely sisters.'
The Truth of It - Dipika Kohli - `Even though Paige is in another state now, and I'm in Asia, and we don't talk or message each other, I'm still very grateful to her. She was there for me, in a way no one could dare to be, right then. At that darkening-sky moment in our shared carpool of life, she was summer light. I'll never forget how much that mattered, how much strength she imparted to me to trust myself to do the thing I didn't want to do, but knew I would. I learned just how vulnerable a doctor could be when she wasn't in a pressed white coat in a hospital, wasn't on stage, wasn't even trying to be, but was totally honest and open. For all my life I will remember the shape, color and scent of that very essence of how it felt just then to have, for an afternoon's instant, one very real, very true friend.'
Sister Act -Vicki Batman - `To this day, I plop my family on the couch with treats and drinks, and we turn on White Christmas. I sing all the tunes. When the signature song ends, contentment swells inside me. I fight back tears. My holidays are perfect. Life is perfect. I have everything.Funny, my men refuse to sing with me. Maybe some things are best shared with sisters.'
Echoes from the Heart - Mary J. Kohut - `My first recollection of life was in the Tennessee Children's Home in Nashville. I remember my little sister, but the home wouldn't admit she was my sister; they said she was just a little girl I became attached to. I must have been two-and-a-half or three years old at this time.'
We Have Today - Paige Strickland - `That's OK, though. We have today, and even if we live far apart, or our work and kids' schedules steal our time, we do have each other. Our kids have cousins. We don't blame anyone for a past we'll never share. We embrace the present and treasure our chances to cheer at kids' games and graduations, dance at weddings, rejoice at births, mourn when we need to mourn, work when we need to work, and laugh every chance we get.'
Jen-Jen - Jesse Kimmel Freeman - `I lost you, my big sister, in 2002. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel guilt over your death. It doesn't matter that I had nothing to do with it, that I was just a teen, or that I couldn't have done anything to stop it. That is one of the curses of surviving a loved one's suicide. I am left with the guilt and the lingering what-ifs. I am left wishing everyone would take a moment for those in their lives who are suffering--you know, say hello, smile, offer a candy bar, show the generosity you always possessed. One small gesture could make all the difference. You were my world even if you didn't realize it. And you'll forever live in my heart. Goodbye, Jen-Jen.'
To attempt to taste this panoply of near 85 works is an injustice as every reader will find those that come closer to the heart or memory or soul. This is not simply an anthology: this is a definition of the essence of `sister', and as such it is sacred, nourishment for women. For men it is a Diogenes lantern as a guide to understand or appreciate that elusive bond. Grady Harp, January 15
So it was with great curiosity that I read the authentic and surprisingly entertaining anthology, Sisters Born, Sisters Found. I expected that this book would reveal an unknown world of relationships to me. And it did!
I now know what a sister is: not because of any single story in the wide range of experiences collected within this anthology, but because the book listens with the heart of a sister. The unique and compassionate bond that is the best of sisterhood is evident in the way each story is honored, framed, and shared. Read this book! You’ll find the sister you always wanted—in the validation of women’s deeply shared lives.
Edited by Laura McHale Holland, the book offers a global view of sisterhood in its many forms and through many voices. It is dedicated "To all women throughout the world whose birth families gave them siblings, to those who became sisters through other kinds of bonds, and all the sisters and brothers who love them."
Each story or poem in the book comes with its own voice and its own complexities of joy or heartbreak. The concept of sisterhood explored by the many writers ranges from fleeting moments of knowing someone as your sister soulmate to lifetimes of sharing experiences. Wherever a contributing author lives on the globe, her story is part of the whole. Particularly poignant is the tale about an Arab and an Israeli sisterhood with its background hints of Romeo and Juliet.
The stories are not simply happy or sad; most come with a mixture of true-to-life complexities. In Diana M. Madeo's story, "The Sister Pickers," for instance, two sisters are in harmony one moment and then fighting over who gets to buy an antique purse at a thrift shop. When an observer clears her throat in apparent disapproval, one sister responds, "Don't mind us... We have no life." "Quite the opposite," the observer says. "I had a friendship like yours once. It was sad when she moved away. What you two have is quite the life."
If you enjoy exploring the theme of sisterhood, you'll have a wonderful time reading Sisters Born, Sisters Found. Perhaps, as I did, you'll also feel that you've found a long-lost sister in a particular author through her words in this delightful anthology.
by Pat Bean
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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Full disclosure: I am one of seventy-six authors in this anthology, a collection of such diversity as can scarcely be imagined—younger and older...Read more