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3 Great reads for summer that explore sibling relationships


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Cecilia Pigg - published on 05/25/21

These books are perfect for your beach or pool list this year and may even help strengthen your family bonds.

This might be the summer to forgo a fun, light romance for the pool. In these strange COVID-marked times, why not tackle some material with a little more depth?

In the past year, you may have been pushed by current events either closer to or farther from your siblings, so it might be a good time to reflect on the sibling bond — as complicated as it can be. The love that you have for a brother or sister can elevate you into the most selfless, protective, and loyal person who ever lived at one moment, and then leave you wondering how you can be so petty and grumpy and reactive the next minute.

These 3 reads explore the highs and lows of friendship between brothers and sisters. As an interesting bonus, at least one main character in each book relies on the power of prayer to sustain himself or herself in daily life. Each book has a different tone and genre, but the threads of family run firmly and deeply throughout.

Peace Like a Riverby Leif Enger

Would you like to read a funny and poignant family drama? Pick up Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It’s easy to read but takes a little longer to digest.

The book follows a Midwestern family during a particularly turbulent time in their lives. The oldest brother is arrested for a crime, and then escapes from jail, and his father and younger brother and sister navigate the aftermath. The book is narrated by Reuben, the asthmatic 11-year-old younger brother. His relationship with his little sister, Swede, and their love for their condemned older brother, drives the story and rings very true. What do you do when your beloved sibling is in prison and your small town, the victims’ families, and the media all have something to say? Would it tear your family apart or knit them more tightly together?

My heart hurt throughout this story, but I ended it feeling uplifted and re-reading the parts that had made me laugh out loud. 

TheKiller Angels by Michael Shaara

Would you like to read a historical novel and brush up on your American history knowledge? For a character-driven and Pulitzer Prize winning story of the Civil War, check out the book TheKiller Angelsby Michael Shaara. This book shows the battle of Gettysburg from the perspectives of men on both sides. The brotherhood of the men in arms is powerful. What complicates matters is that many men who had fought together previously before the war are now pitted against each other in opposite camps and sides.

But it is not just the brotherly ties forged in battle that are at stake in the novel. Biological brotherhood comes into play as well. A particularly interesting and powerful part of the narrative is when Colonel Chamberlain has to decide on multiple occasions where to put his biological brother who is fighting with him in his regiment. He doesn’t want his brother to get hurt, but he also doesn’t want to show too much favoritism towards him.

Overall, the human drama of the men who fought is supremely compelling, and several parts moved me deeply. A hard but important read. 

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Would you like to read an interesting re-telling of a myth, and the last (and supposedly the best, according to himself) novel written by C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia)? Till We Have Faces follows the story of Orual and her quest for her beloved sister Psyche.

The story is in two parts, and in the first part Orual tells her life story, bitterly complaining against the gods as she details her sufferings and injustice that she has experienced. Though the characters and environments of the story are mythical, the relationships are quite real and complex. Orual writes about what it is like to lose a sister and then find her again. But a reunion with a sibling after a separation is not easy, especially when one has changed drastically.

This book explores many levels of love, as it follows both the pain we cause by our selfishness and the redemption that is possible if we are willing. 

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