MIXED FEELINGS by Francine Klagsbrun

MIXED FEELINGS

Love, Hate, Rivalry, and Reconciliation Among Brothers and Sisters
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A sympathetic though not rigorously scientific exploration of adult sibling relationships, by Klagsbrun (Married People, 1985, etc.). Klagsbrun interviewed 122 men and women about their ties with their sibling or siblings. In each case, every sibling in a subject's family was interviewed, usually face to face and for four or five hours. Further data were gathered through a questionnaire given to 208 women and 64 men at three business firms in cities in the Northeast and Midwest--clearly not a random sample, but one that Klagsbrun believes represents a cross section of society. The territory she has chosen to explore includes relationships of same-sex and opposite-sex siblings; the special cases of twins, stepsibs, half-sibs, and adopted siblings; the effects of birth order and favoritism; the problems of incest and the illness and/or death of a sibling; and the impact of the sibling bond on other relationships. The vastness of the topic and the nature of the investigation make conclusions difficult, and Klagsbrun seems content to settle for life stories that readers may identify with and learn from. There are occasional references to studies of sibling relationships and allusions to fictional characters and to real-life prominent brothers or sisters, but the heart of the book consists of the disclosures Klagsbrun elicits in her skillfully conducted interviews. One man attributes his life of solitude and misery to the lasting shame of his older sister's sexual promiscuity; a middle-aged executive still fights for control over his gay- activist younger brother; two adult sisters strive to overcome the barrier of parental favoritism. Klagsbrun, who acknowledges the importance of the sibling bond in her own life, would clearly like to see reconciliations between siblings, and she offers her own thoughts on how to achieve this. Too broad to be deep, but sometimes illuminating and always engaging.

Pub Date: Aug. 17th, 1992
ISBN: 0-553-08841-6
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992