SISTER TO SISTER: Women Write About the Unbreakable Bond by Patricia--Ed. Foster

SISTER TO SISTER: Women Write About the Unbreakable Bond

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of admirably textured and often painfully honest writings. The bond between sisters is one of the most intimate and complicated relationships, and as many of the contributors point out, it has too often been belittled or left unexplored. These pieces are mostly nonfiction, and more than half of them are published here for the first time. There is strong writing from women with sisters who are mentally ill or retarded, sisters with multiple sclerosis or who commit suicide or disappear. Competition and jealousy are explored, as is the confusing and often agonizing struggle to find a separate identity (""I'm you,"" one five-year-old said to her six-year-old sister; ""We're me,"" her sister agreed). Interestingly, editor Foster (ed., Minding the Body, 1994) also includes two outside perspectives--from women who don't have sisters. Some of the gems of the collection are Joy Williams's short story about elderly, childless sisters who find a baby in their mailbox; Debra Spark's memoir about her sister's death from cancer; Robin Behn's essay on her sister's conversion to Buddhism; and Lucy Grealy's meditation on what having a twin means--and what it doesn't mean. Not surprisingly, given that many of the contributors' sisters are still living, some of the first-person essays attempt to sugar-coat the pain and anger they express, ending with Pollyanna-ish odes to sisterhood, bell hooks, who, growing up, was shunned by her five sisters for being ""crazy,"" writes compellingly about feeling left out and about the way the girls criticized each other's bodies and policed each other's sexuality; yet she ends with the declaration that she and all her sisters ""know the joy of sustained sisterly bonding."" (For more on this special bond, see Brenda Peterson's Sister Stories, p. 1475.) Despite the occasional lapse into platitudes, a powerful collection; women with and without sisters will find many of their feelings expressed here with eerie accuracy.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0385471297
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday