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Novels to Celebrate National Sisters Day

Anyone who has ever had a sister, or wanted a sister, or been glad they don’t have a sister knows that there is something unique about those particular relationships. Your sister can be your biggest champion, your most trusted confidant, or a thorn in your side. You might not always like each other, but you always love each other and have each other’s back. No matter what, when you have a sister (or many sisters) things are always a little more interesting.

Take the four Sorenson sisters from Claire Lombardo’s debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had. For them, having three sisters means that secrets don’t stay secrets for long and that the past will not stay buried. We’re sure that you’ll get as caught up in the lives of the Sorensonsand all the other sisters in these booksas much as they meddle in each others’.

Sisterhood is full of so much love and drama, it’s no wonder there have been so many novels written about it! You can check out even more books for National Sisters Day in our previous post here.

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

“The big family saga of the summer, unfurling the fallout of a long-buried secret and persisting rivalries between four sisters across fifty transformative years.” —Entertainment Weekly

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that awaits them. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are in a state of unrest. Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator turned stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she’s not sure she wants by a man she’s not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. With the arrival of Jonah Bendt—a child placed for adoption by one of the sisters fifteen years before—the Sorensons will be forced to reckon with the rich and varied tapestry of their past: years marred by adolescent angst, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“Spectacular.” —Zadie Smith

Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery.

Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Amy, Beth, Meg and Jo—who was probably why I became a writer—were my family and friends.” —Gloria Steinem

Little Women has long been one of the most enduringly beloved classics of children’s literature, as popular with adults as it is with young readers. Generations have been entranced by the adventures of the four March sisters, each with their distinct and realistic virtues and flaws: tomboyish, ambitious Jo; frail and sweet Beth; beautiful, confident Meg; and artistic, willful Amy. With their patient mother, Marmee, they survive the hardships of the Civil War and the dramas and tragedies of family life.

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

“A taut, rapidly paced thriller that pleasurably subverts serial killer and sisterhood tropes for a guaranteed fun afternoon.” —Huffington Post

Korede’s sister Ayoola is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead, stabbed through the heart with Ayoola’s knife. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood (bleach, bleach, and more bleach), the best way to move a body (wrap it in sheets like a mummy), and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

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Dual Citizens by Alix Ohlin

“Luminous. . . . Ohlin’s touching, beautifully crafted story traces the unbreakable bond holding the sisters together, even when miles apart, through many changes.” —Booklist

Raised in Montreal by their disinterested single mother, half sisters Lark and Robin form a fierce team in spite of their differences. When Lark flees to America to attend college, her sister soon joins her. But even as Lark discovers a calling working in documentary film, she struggles with self-doubt, and Robin chafes against the demands of studying piano at Juilliard. Their bond strains under increasing pressure until it breaks.

Years later, Lark’s life is in tatters and Robin’s is wilder than ever. As Lark tries to take charge of her destiny, she discovers that despite the difficulties of their relationship, there is only one person she can truly rely on: her sister.

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The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

“Mackintosh’s profound faith in sisterhood imbues her particular dark vision with beauty and a kind of hope.” —Newsday

King has tenderly staked out a territory for his wife and three daughters, Grace, Lia, and Sky. Here on his island, women are protected from the chaos and violence of men on the mainland. The cult-like rituals and therapies they endure fortify them from the spreading toxicity of a degrading world.

But when King disappears and two men and a boy wash ashore, the sisters’ safe world begins to unravel. Over the span of one blistering hot week, a psychological cat-and-mouse game plays out. Sexual tensions and sibling rivalries flare as the sisters are forced to confront the amorphous threat the strangers represent.

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Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

“A breathtaking literary ode to life, change, and the unbreakable bonds of family.” —Redbook

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.

Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, quietly preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago. A graceful, supremely moving novel from one of our most beloved writers, Saints for All Occasions explores the fascinating, funny, and sometimes achingly sad ways a secret at the heart of one family both breaks them and binds them together.

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The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
“Absorbing . . .expertly rendered . . . . Virtuosic storytelling [is] on display.” —The New York Times

In The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood weaves together strands of gothic suspense, romance, and science fiction into one utterly spellbinding narrative. The novel begins with the mysterious death—a possible suicide—of a young woman named Laura Chase in 1945. Decades later, Laura’s sister Iris recounts her memories of their childhood, and of the dramatic deaths that have punctuated their wealthy, eccentric family’s history. Intertwined with Iris’s account are chapters from the scandalous novel that made Laura famous, in which two illicit lovers amuse each other by spinning a tale of a blind killer on a distant planet. These richly layered stories-within-stories gradually illuminate the secrets that have long haunted the Chase family, coming together in a brilliant and astonishing final twist.

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Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

“The power of stories and the strength of women who tell them are lovingly rendered in a tale as rich and bountiful as the scents and sounds of Calcutta.” —San Francisco Chronicle

Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction. Her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of that same family. Sudha is startlingly beautiful; Anju is not. Despite those differences, since the day on which the two girls were born, the same day their fathers died—mysteriously and violently—Sudha and Anju have been sisters of the heart. Bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend, the two girls grow into womanhood as if their fates as well as their hearts were merged.

But, when Sudha learns a dark family secret, that connection is shattered. For the first time in their lives, the girls know what it is to feel suspicion and distrust. Urged into arranged marriages, Sudha and Anju’s lives take opposite turns. Sudha becomes the dutiful daughter-in-law of a rigid small-town household. Anju goes to America with her new husband and learns to live her own life of secrets. When tragedy strikes each of them, however, they discover that despite distance and marriage, they have only each other to turn to.

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Atonement by Ian McEwan

“Magically readable . . . never has McEwan shown himself to be more in sympathy with the vulnerability of the human heart.” —The Sunday Times (London)

On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her older sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching Cecilia is their housekeeper’s son Robbie Turner, a childhood friend who, along with Briony’s sister, has recently graduated from Cambridge.

By the end of that day the lives of all three will have been changed forever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had never before dared to approach and will have become victims of the younger girl’s scheming imagination. And Briony will have committed a dreadful crime, the guilt for which will color her entire life.

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