The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (January 20, 2011)
It is the rare book that will keep me up way past my bedtime, but Eleanor Brown’s wonderful debut novel The Weird Sisters did just that – I just couldn’t stop reading! This is one of those books that I just want to press into other readers’ hands and demand that they read it. Read my full review here.
The book resonated with me on many levels, but certainly because I am the youngest of three sisters (that’s us in Vermont in about 1964). The photos in our albums show girls who were often dressed identically in the first few years of our lives, looking very alike despite the one and a half years between us. We are all different, unique in our own ways, individuals … but our genetic makeup and our collective memories bind us as sisters – a bond that can never be broken. This is what Brown’s novel speaks to the loudest: the unbreakable bond of sisters, the turning to each other despite the differences in personality, and unexplainable ambivalence, and past history which may or may not contain jealousy or betrayal or petty arguments. What a great book!
So, it is with great pleasure that I invited Eleanor Brown to my blog today as part of a TLC Book Tour. She agreed to provide a guest post, and I hope that after you read it, you will be even MORE convinced that you need to rush out and buy her book! Welcome Eleanor!!
by Eleanor Brown
When I started writing The Weird Sisters, I also banned myself from reading books or seeing movies about sisters, and about siblings in general.
It was kind of shocking how much that cut my choices in entertainment.
We are fascinated with siblings – and especially sisters – and for good reason. I recently re-connected with an old friend on Facebook and was shocked (and I’m not using that word lightly) to find that she was Facebook friends with her brother. Every memory I have of visiting her house includes a fight between the two of them, often with slammed doors and melodramatic sobbing on both of their parts.
Granted, those memories are a good two decades old, and it’s not like being Facebook friends with someone is on a par with giving them a kidney, but I couldn’t picture their being anything but mortal enemies.
And yet we have so many stories that are about exactly that – about the bond between siblings, about sisterhood (by blood or by choice) and the lessons it teaches us, about the way that learning to care for our siblings is about learning to love ourselves. They are, after all, the best mirror of our history that we have.
Now that I’m on to other projects, I have been drinking my fill of sibling stories, and there are so many wonderful ones I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.
This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper – If you’ve never read anything by Tropper, this is a grand place to start: a gloriously dysfunctional set of siblings with family secrets to spare reunite to sit shiva for their father. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s also a perfect example of the way our relationships with our siblings continue to define us even as we change ourselves.
In Her Shoes, Jennifer Weiner – This book made me do a lot of thinking about the way families work, about the cultural expectation we have to put up with things from family members that we wouldn’t tolerate in a minute from anyone else. The story of two wildly different sisters who need each other to unravel their family’s history and stop walking the narrow paths they have laid for themselves is both funny and emotional.
The Opposite of Me, Sarah Pekkanen – Another pair of sisters who are different, but amped up – Alex and Lindsey are twins, and Lindsey is the self-perceived ugly duckling. Like the Andreas sisters in The Weird Sisters, Lindsey in particular needs to learn to break free of the role her family cast her in and define herself for a change.
The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy – With a horrible (and occasionally horrifying) family history, it’s no wonder that the siblings in the Wingo family are damaged the way they are. But they already love each other, and desperately, the way survivors of a crisis are closer because of it. The beauty here is watching the way they learned to love each other through the pain they endured.
Oh, there are so many more I want to mention – Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare’s King Lear or The Taming of the Shrew, but I would love to hear from you as well. What sibling stories should everyone else be reading?
Eleanor Brown was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, but has also lived in St. Paul, San Francisco, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Oxford, London, and Brighton, England. She works in educational technology and lives in Colorado with her partner, writer and new media superstar, J.C. Hutchins.
Eleanor’s writing has appeared in anthologies, journals, magazines, and newspapers. The Weird Sisters is her first novel and was published last week by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam. Learn more about Brown and her work by visiting her website and blog. Readers may also connect with her on Facebook, and Twitter.