Siblings. Do You Love Them? Or Not?

I was looking at a photo of my brother Bill and me on his tricycle which made me smile. He died last year and I miss him, though he frequently did big-brother mean things to me, he always took care me when I needed it. When the picture was taken, I was three or four and he was a year and half older, with flame red hair and freckles. My hair hadn’t turned that red yet—more strawberry blonde at that point. I was standing behind Bill on the back step of his trike as he pedaled us around our backyard in Hollywood, California, when Mother snapped the picture.

Bill and I were forever getting into mischief, like the time we coated our entire bodies—except for our hair–in charcoal dust awaiting mixing into white paint so our house would be light grey. This was back in the early 1940s. We looked very funny until Mother had to scrub our skin with a brush and harsh soap.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to tell you about books that deal with sibling relationships. Hope you enjoy them.


Even sci-fi stories can have sibling rivalry in them and this book is a fun read.


Mark Haddon

Jim has a typical younger brother relationship with his 16 year old sister, Becky; he drops a cheese and jelly sandwich on her boyfriend, Craterface, and she smacks Jim upside the head. Then she tells him she overheard teachers at their school talking about what a poor student he is and whether they should transfer him to a school for kids with problems where there are bars on the windows and people howling. Something else for him to worry about along with watching his father play with model planes and sink into depression because he can’t find a job. Jim’s mother has a good job and expects her husband to do the household stuff, but he keeps forgetting and he’s an awful cook. Jim gets his best friend, Charlie, to help him figure out if he really is going to be expelled. Charlie’s way eager to help and sneaks a walkie-talkie into the teacher’s lounge just before the weekly staff meeting. Although they don’t hear any mention of Jim’s name, they do overhear two of the teachers speaking a strange language after the meeting. Things go downhill from there, leading Jim and Becky to run for their lives on Craterface’s motorcycle. Turns out the teachers are only two of many aliens bent on kidnapping humans to repopulate their planet. Jim and friends not only save the day, he becomes friends with his sister, gives his dad an attitude-changing cookbook which lands him a job and our hero is not expelled from school. Very funny book with lots of tension and a great alien language.

BIBLIO: 2009 (orig. 1992), David Fickling Book/Random House Children’s Books/Random House, Ages 12 +, $15.99

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-385-75187-2

ISBN: 978-0-385-75188-9

ISBN: 978-0-375-89364-3


I was happy to get this second book to review since I love reading about horses, but this one left a lot to be desired, plus the girl’s relationship with her sisters in mostly unbelievable.


Jessica Burkhart

Lauren has it all, or so it seems, in this introduction of her starring role within the “Canterwood Crest” series. But she does have to get over her fear of jumping caused by a nasty spill on a cross-country course and she does worry about being accepted into the elite Canterwood Crest boarding school where she hopes to further her riding skills. And then the older of her two sisters, Charlotte, is coming home from college for the summer, making Lauren anxious about their on-going sibling rivalry fight. But she does have her faithful boyfriend, Taylor, and her two BFFs who give her encouragement. It is amazing that her parents seem to have no problem with their twelve-year-old daughter going on real dates and wearing make-up, or that the younger of her two older sisters, Becca, has no resentment in being yanked away from school and neighborhood so Lauren can go to a prep school that will be a stepping-stone to her admittance to Canterwood Crest. The all too brief description of riding will disappoint horse-lovers and the obsession with make-up and clothes should make parents roll their eyes and sigh in disgust.

BIBLIO: 2011, Aladdin Mix/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division/Simon & Schuster Publishing, Ages 8 to 12, $6.99.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Middle Reader

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1946-9


Have you ever lived through a tornado? If not, the description is this book will make you feel as if you had. The main character loses a lot, but in the end she gains much. You might even be able to find a copy in a book store.

Torn Away

Jennifer Brown

Just as she ‘s about to finish her junior year in high school, Jersey Cameron’s whole life is blown away when a massive tornado wipes out a large swath of her Missouri town. Her mother and younger sister, Marin, die and then her stepfather, Ronnie, ships her off to her biological father and her paternal grandparents whom she has never met. Her remarried birth father has twin daughters who are cruel to Jersey. She sleeps on the screen porch of her grandparents’ seriously overcrowded house. With the exception of her aunt, who lives in the house with her two out-of-control sons, everyone is mean to her and very un-accepting. Then she learns her parents didn’t separate in the way she had always been told; that her mother wasn’t as truthful as she could have been. Eventually she is foisted off on to her also unknown maternal grandparents, but by now is so hurt and angry and guilt-ridden for ignoring Marin, she is rude. Since her mother told her lies about them, she is surprised to discover they are good people who just want to help her heal. The description of Jersey’s surviving the storm all alone in the basement of her house is electrifying and her struggle to survive the pain and suffering she endures is emotionally powerful. The book is a good read and the characters are well defined.

BIBLIO: 2014, Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group, Ages 13 +, $18.00.

REVIEWER: Sarah Maury Swan

FORMAT: Young Adult

ISBN: 978-0-316-24553-1

ISBN: 978-0-316-24551-7


Next week I’m going to tell you about some anthologies I’ve reviewed. Sarah

9 thoughts on “Siblings. Do You Love Them? Or Not?

  1. Sarah, I enjoyed your post and hearing about the charcoal mischief you and your brother had gotten into! What a neat memory! It was so great to see you “in person” at the conference!

  2. Sarah,
    What a nice blog you have! I love to read, and will have to check out these books. Did you ever read Summer of the Swans? It is about a girl with a sibling who is mentally retarded.
    Megan V. (from Pub Subbers)

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Megan. I haven’t heard of “Summer of the Swans.” I’ll look it up. I once had a golf buddy who had a swan attack one of her grandchildren. She told me this with a tone of great outrage, as if somehow I was related to the swan. Made me laugh. BTW, I checked out your blog and left a comment about King Edward.

  3. Hi Sarah,
    You should use that experience of being blamed for the swan attack in a story sometime. Unreal!

    I’m very thankful for my siblings. If you’re looking for a writing topic, sibling rivalry isn’t dead!

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