Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Feature Sisters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! This week, our topic was to chose ten books that highlighted a particular type of character. I figured I'd focus on sisterhood, since that's a subject that has a lot of meaning for me (my little sister is 2000 miles away and I miss her).

My Sister's Keeper: This Jodi Picoult tearjerker is about a girl who's been serving as a source of replacement body tissue for her sister, who's been struggling against cancer, for most of her life. When her sister needs her yet again, she takes her fight to be able to make her own decisions about her body to court. It's compulsively readable and really gets you by the heartstrings.

Game of Thrones: There are sisters all over this series, but the ones I find most interesting are Sansa and Arya Stark. The former wants nothing more than to be a great noble lady, while the latter strains against the boundaries she feels trapped into because of her gender. The ways that sisters struggle to define themselves against each other feels very true to me.

Atonement: This is a book I keep meaning to revisit, because I didn't care for it when I read it as a high schooler but I really enjoyed the movie when I saw it years later. It tells the story of Briony Tallis, whose jealousy of her older sister and overactive young teenage imagination lead her to make a careless accusation which destroys lives. Sisterhood is wonderful, but there's darkness there too and this is a powerful exploration of that.

The Descendants: This novel, about a father and his two daughters reacting to the accident that left the mother in a terminal coma, is more about the relationship of the family as a whole than the sisters specifically. But the sisters, both damaged by their childhoods in their own way, provide an interesting example of how two children can come out of the same household and wind up being very different people.

The Red Tent: This book, on the other hand, is deeply about sisterhood. This novel, which I've loved since I first read it in high school, tells the story of the only daughter of the biblical Jacob, starting with the story of her mothers. Yes, mothers, since it's not only her biological mother Leah who raises her, but also her aunt Rachel and their half-sisters (as Diamant tells it), Zilpah and Bilhah, all married to her father. To be four sisters is one thing, but four sisters sharing one man complicates the situation, and the ways the bonds between them change over time is beautifully drawn.

Sense and Sensibility: Pride and Prejudice has more sisters, but her siblings seemed like mostly window dressing to Lizzie Bennett's story. Sense and Sensibility is much more strongly rooted in the bond between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood...and any older sister who's used to fretting over a much more impulsive younger sister will recognize herself here.

Seating Arrangements: This book I had mixed feelings about as a whole, but thought it had an interesting perspective on sisterhood. While older sister Daphne seems, to younger sister Lydia, to glide through life without too much trouble, Lydia feels like a puzzle piece that doesn't fit. It's easy to feel, sometimes, like the life your sister leads is a reference point for the way you should or shouldn't live your own. Comparison and jealousy is a very real part of sisterhood.

The Other Boleyn Girl: I will concede that this book is kind of soapy and ridiculous, but I love this whole series and just embrace the fromage. Before Anne Boleyn ensnared King Henry VIII, he was enamored of her sister, Mary, who became his mistress for a time. They don't always like each other, which is very true of sisterhood, but the bonds of family prove very hard to actually break.

Housekeeping: I actually did not love this book, to be perfectly honest, but I did like the way that Marilynne Robinson played with the idea of sister relationships through generations. Ruth and Lucille are still quite little when their mother abandons them and drives her car off a cliff, and when several other arrangements fall apart, they wind up with their aunt Sylvie, who's...odd. She's basically a hobo, and Ruth finds herself drawn closer and closer to her while Lucille chases conventionality.

Spoiled: This fun, silly YA novel from the bloggers behind Go Fug Yourself tells the story of a teenage girl from flyover country who finds out, when her mother dies, that her father is a major Hollywood star. She moves out to LA to get to know him and the sister she never knew she had. It's predictable, in large measure, and maybe a bit too broad, but I liked the way the relationship between the sisters develops.


  1. Great idea for a list! My favourite Jane Austen sisters are Lizzie and Jane though - I love how well they understand each other :)

    1. They're my favorite of the Bennett sisters, but I just love the Dashwoods :)

  2. Great topic! I love stories that feature sisters, being the youngest of three myself, and thank you for reminding me that I need to check out The Red Tent - it sounds fascinating. =)

    1. I loved it when I first read it back in high school, and then I listened to it on audio recently and loved it all over again