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Books about sibling relationships often mine the wonderful complexities that come with being siblings. If you love stories that explore the life-long push-and-pull of these family relationships, you’ll want to read these excellent books about siblings.
Sibling relationships are not always easy.
Anyone with kids knows that managing the ever-changing tide of emotions between siblings can be one of the most challenging parts of parenting.
If you have your own siblings, you may have memories of the all-important arguments that you had growing up.
It’s MY turn to push the button! Stop touching me! That’s mine and you can’t use it! Get out of the bathroom! Why do you get everything you want?
I hear shrieks like this regularly around my house–and I probably said them just as much as a kid. Even if those particular arguments don’t ring true for you, I’m sure you have your own variation of the petty, resentful, and competitive arguments that were shouted at various times.
Of course, the shrieks often alternate with blissful moments when siblings adore one another and are best friends. This push-and-pull often seems to happen all throughout childhood and sometimes into adulthood–and of course, history matters, and it shapes how siblings relate to one another for years and decades after childhood.
Every sibling relationship is different, and the books on this list explore the complexities of the lifelong friendships, rivalries, resentments, and blood-ties of brothers and sisters.
These books about sibling relationships are must-reads for anyone who loves a good family drama.
Books About Siblings
Author: Ann Patchett
Set at the end of World War II and told over five decades, this is the story of a brother, Danny, and sister, Maeve, whose stepmother casts them out of the estate of their childhood after their father’s death. The house looms large in their memories and their relationship, and they revisit it in various ways over the years, never quite able release its hold and its secrets.
Patchett crafts a dark fairy tale–without going over-the-top–and deftly examines the siblings commitment to one another and the differences in their perceptions of their youth.
Author: Tara Conklin
As children, siblings Renee, Caroline, Joe, and Fiona together experienced the Pause. Following their father’s early death, their mother’s years-long retreat defined their relationships, cementing a lifelong closeness, sense of responsibility, and knowing of one another.
But it’s the unknown traumas and struggles that sends each on their own paths into adulthood, paths that the others don’t understand. Told over decades, The Last Romantics examines the nature of love, commitment, and the strength of those bonds even as what we know changes.
Author: Christina Clancy
Teens Ann and Poppy are excited to welcome their adoptive brother, Michael, to the family’s summer home on Cape Cod. After his mother’s death, Michael was thrilled to join the Gordon family, despite his non-brotherly feelings for Ann. But a disastrous summer pulls Michael from the family forever, until their parents’ sudden death fifteen years later.
The three are reunited at the summer home to determine its fate. Bitterness and secrets from the past remain, and they are left to untangle what happened then and how they will move forward–as a family or not.
Author: Bianca Marais
In post-Apartheid South Africa, two estranged sisters find themselves back in their childhood home. One’s marriage has collapsed, while the other has been disgraced out of the convent. When a Black baby is abandoned on their doorstep, with his desperate mother not far behind, they may be able to rebuild as a different kind of family–if the world will let them.
South Africa’s political upheaval, rampant racism, and emerging AIDS pandemic were fascinating historical backdrops to this deeply personal story.
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Two sisters, Jo and Bethie, inhabit set roles during their childhood in the 50s: Jo is a rebellious tomboy, while Bethie is traditional and feminine. After several traumas, their roles flip. Jo becomes a suburban mother and Bethie jumps into the counterculture and freedoms of the 60s.
A good choice if you like family stories with relationships evolving over decades.
Author: Katharine McGee
For a lighter take on the sibling novel, dive into an alternate reality in which the United States became a monarchy at its inception. Princess Beatrice is the first female who will ascend to the American throne, and the pressure is getting to her. Pushed now to choose a husband–the right husband–Beatrice is starting to feel the sacrifice is too great. Meanwhile, her twin siblings, Samantha and Jefferson, have their own romantic dramas and royal pressures.
Author: Jane Harper
Two brothers meet at the line of their properties in the Australian outback, with their third brother dead at their feet. They grieve his loss and investigate what could have happened–but there are few suspects on the isolated outback, and secrets that people want to keep hidden.
While a mystery is at the center of this story, it’s really a character examination, filled with family dynamics colored by the desolate setting of the outback.
Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite
Korede would do anything for her sister, Ayoola–and she does, when Ayoola starts killing her boyfriends. As Korede realizes that her sister is veering into serial killer territory, Ayoola sets her sights on the doctor Korede is in love with herself. Korede struggles with how to protect both the man and the sister she loves–but she may have to choose.
Filled with dark humor and a little absurdity, this book is excellent on audio.
Author: Lydia Fitzpatrick
Ilya is a Russian teen who wants nothing more than to go to America. He idolizes his brother, Vladimir, despite his troublemaking and eventual drug addiction. Ilya continues on the straight-and-narrow and eventually makes it to a family in Texas.
Back in Russia, his brother is imprisoned for the murders of three local women. Ilya is determined to exonerate Vladimir but finds that drugs in America are just as devastating as in Russia.
Dark and gritty, with a fascinating juxtaposition of the Russian and American locales.
Author: Claire Lombardo
The Sorenson family is grounded by the seemingly perfect marriage of Marilyn and David. The four daughters in adulthood seem hampered by this perfection, given an example that is impossible to attain and that brings their own failures and struggles into sharp relief. But a closer look reveals that perfection in any life is a myth, and there is no one way to face adversity.
Filled with wonderfully complicated characters–some of whom you think you might dislike, but you actually end up loving. An excellent family and sibling novel.
Author: Miriam Toews
Elf and Yoli are two sisters who grew up in a Mennonite community in Winnipeg. As an adult, Elf is an acclaimed and glamorous pianist. Yoli is less successful–going through her second divorce and struggling to raise two teenagers–but it’s Elf’s struggles that dominate. Crippled by depression, she is determined to end her life.
Yoli grapples with what it means to approach her sister with love and compassion, without being complicit in her plans. This book is by turns witty, sharply observant, and heartbreaking.
Author: Brit Bennett
The Vanishing Half tells the story of two Black twin sisters, raised in a small town where light skin is valued and sought after when building families. The two run to New Orleans as teens and then take very different life paths, only to be reunited decades later and forced to reckon with their choices.
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Nora and Theresa are sisters and young women when they leave Ireland for the U.S. Nora is serious and planning to marry a man she’s uncertain of, while Theresa jumps headlong into the Boston social scene. Theresa ends up pregnant, and Nora comes up with a plan that changes both of their lives.
Decades later, Nora has a large family and Theresa is a nun. After years of silence, the two are coming together again after a tragedy and are forced to reckon with the past.
Author: Sarah Addison Allen
The women in the Waverly family are all uniquely gifted with light touches of magic–gifts that affect moods, appearances, and spaces. Even the Waverly house and apple tree seem to be enchanted and have minds of their own. Each year as the first frost approaches, the women grow unsettled–never more so than this year, when a stranger arrives and disrupts their understanding of their family and themselves.
This story about magical siblings and their families is a nice light choice. It’s a sequel to Garden Spells, but you don’t have to read the first to follow and enjoy this book.
Author: Jandy Nelson
The story of twins Jude and Noah, who are inseparable in childhood but barely speaking as teens. Noah is sensitive, artistic, and in love with the boy next door, while Jude is outgoing and a little wild. Alternating narratives slowly unfold the story of how they were divided–and their attempts to come back to one another.
A beautiful, imaginative YA novel that is also a great read for adults.
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Camino (Cami) and Yahaira (Yaya) are sisters, but they don’t know it until their father dies in a plane crash. As the teens grieve, they also must come to terms with the reality of life without their father. Cami, in the Dominican Republic, dodges a predatory pimp who wants her in his service, while Yaya, in New York City, tries to reconcile the father she loved with this new information about him. When Yaya takes off for DR, the two girls have to decide: will they hold on to resentment, or will they be family?
A beautifully told novel-in-verse; I highly recommend this on audio.
Author: Robin Benway
Far from the Tree is the story of of three siblings who at birth went different ways into adopted families and foster care. They find each other as teens and navigate their new relationships as siblings and with their other families. A heartwarming, complicated, and realistic exploration of the many meanings of family.
This is one of my all-time favorite audiobooks: the issues are heavy, but because these are teens, the story is sprinkled with levity. Julia Whelan narrates and she is excellent.
What other books about siblings do you love?
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