Today is National Siblings Day! Who knew that was even a day, but it’s trending widely on Twitter (I knew Twitter was good for something besides wasting time and inciting revolution) and a quick Google search confirms that it is indeed a “legitimate” day. According to the Siblings Day Foundation (siblingsday.org) “you can celebrate by sending your siblings a card, gift or phone call; making a dinner invitation; performing a good deed, favor or errand or chore; and in cases of deceased siblings consciously holding them in [your] memory.”
National Sibling Day got me thinking about literary siblings and how the sibling relationship can be and has been written. The first few books that leapt out to mind were books from my childhood. For me, Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume are the queens of the sibling relationship in literature. Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books (Ramona and Beezus, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave etc) and Judy Blume’s Fudge books (Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Fudge-a-mania etc) are both beautiful examples of sibling interaction complete with rivalry and jealousy. But other, more recent books for kids and young adults also have interesting and complex sibling relationships, from Katniss’s decision to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games to the whole Series of Unfortunate Events, sibling bonds seem to be important parts of lots of kid and YA lit.
But what about books about adult siblings? Which books best describe the relationship between adult brothers and sisters? For that fewer novels leapt to mind. Of course, Patrick deWitt’s award winning and fantastic novel The Sisters Brothers is about grown brothers and Jane Austen is always good if you want to read about sisters, and Jonathan Franzen’s The Commitments is also good, but it seems like literary brothers and sisters take a sideline once adulthood takes over a novel. Lovers and friends, even parents, seem to be more prevalent than a sister or a brother and that’s a shame because the relationship between adult siblings is as rich and complex as any other relationship in adult life. A shared childhood is a deep bond and, in the hands of the right author, its influence can have interesting and layered consequences. Tana French’s Faithful Place is centred on a complex sibling relationship and is all the richer for it and her upcoming novel Broken Harbour (watch for a review of it coming soon to this blog) is also deeply influenced by sibling relationships.
So, on National Siblings Day, take some time out to have a chat with your brother or sister or brothers and sisters and maybe some time to read about the complex and interesting relationships between adult siblings.