Books & Articles – Siblings

Nonfiction
Memoir & Biography
Fiction
Young Readers
Journal Articles
News & Magazine Articles
Annotated Bibliographies

Nonfiction

Alber, E., C. Coe, and T. Thelen (Eds.). The Anthropology of Sibling Relations: Shared Parentage, Experience, and Exchange. 2013.

Bank, Stephen P and Michael D. Kahn. The Sibling Bond (Anniversary edition). 2003. Basic Books. [APA Review of original 1982 publication.]

Baron, Josh and Rob Lachenaue. Harvard Business Review Family Business Handbook: How to Build and Sustain a Successful, Enduring Enterprise. 2021. Harvard Business Review Press.

Blake, Lucy. No Family is Perfect: A Guide to Embracing the Messy Reality. 2022. Welbeck Publishing.

Caffaro, John. Sibling Abuse Trauma: Assessment and Intervention Strategies for Children, Families, and Adults (2nd Edition). 2014. NY: Routledge.

Caspi, Jonathan (Ed.). Sibling Development: Implications for Mental Health Practitioners. 2010.

Chapman, Fern Schumer. Brothers, Sisters, Strangers: Sibling Estrangement and the Road to Reconciliation. 2021. Viking. [also, Memoir]

DeSousa, Magdaline. The Forgotten Mourners: Sibling Survivors of Suicide. 2011. Outskirts Press.

Dillner, Luisa. The Complete Book of Sisters. 2010. Faber & Faber. UK. [Not complete, but entertaining anecdotes, and stories about famous sisters, peppered with research.]

Edwards, Rosalind and Lucy Hadfield. Sibling Identity and Relationships: Sisters and Brothers (Relationships and Resources). 2006.

Goldenthal, Peter. Why Can’t We Get Along?: Healing Adult Sibling Relationships. 2002.

Gottlieb, Andrew R. Side by Side: On Having a Gay or Lesbian Sibling (Haworth Gay & Lesbian Studies). 2004. Routledge.

Greif, Geoffrey and Michael Woolley. Adult Sibling Relationships. 2015. Columbia University Press.

Leibman, Laura Arnold. Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multi-Racial Jewish Family. 2021. Oxford University Press. [An historical investigation into the histories of siblings, Sarah and Isaac Brandon, children of a Jewish father and enslaved mother in Barbados, who married into affluent Jewish families in the U.S.]

Lewis, Karen Gail. Siblings: The Ghosts of Childhood That Haunt Your Love and Work (Kindle Edition). 2015.

Linn-Gust, Michelle. Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling (3rd edition). 2020. Chellehead Works. [also, Memoir]

Maisel, Eric. Helping Survivors of Authoritarian Parents, Siblings, and Partners: A Guide for Professionals. 2018. Routledge. [Providing ways to think about and understand challenging relationships]

——-. Overcoming Your Difficult Family: 8 Skills for Thriving in Any Family Situation. 2017. New World Library. [Not a replacement for therapy in dealing with specific situations, but provides some tools that may be helpful.]

Milevsky, Avidan. Sibling Issues in Therapy: Research and Practice with Children, Adolescents and Adults. 2016 edition. Palgrave Macmillan.

——-Sibling Relationships in Childhood and Adolescence: Predictors and Outcomes. 2011. Columbia University Press.

Pillemer, Karl. Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them. 2020.

Russo, Francine. They’re Your Parents, Too!: How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy. 2010. Bantam Books. [see highlights here and here.]

Strohm, Kate. Being the Other One: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister Who Has Special Needs. 2005. Shambhala (2nd edition).

Taylor, Sarah McFarland. Green Sisters: A Spiritual Ecology. 2009. Harvard University Press; Illustrated edition. [This book presents nuns, who regard each other as sisters, with values that correspond to those of Family Spirals. These “green sisters explore ways of living a meaningful religious life in the face of increased cultural diversity and ecological crisis, their story offers hope for the future–and for a deeper understanding of the connections between women, religion, ecology, and culture.”]

Weihe, Vernon R. Sibling Abuse: Hidden Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Trauma. 1990.

Wray, T.J. Surviving the Death of a Sibling: Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies. 2003. Harmony. USA.

Zellweger, Thomas. Managing the Family Business: Theory and Practice. 2017. Edward Elgar Pub.

Memoir & Biography

There are many memoirs that deal with sibling relationships. Some give details about horrific aggressive and abusive behavior. While there is value in uncovering and challenging the stigma of sibling abuse, and while we can celebrate the courage it takes for people to share their story as a cautionary tale, such memoirs tend not to provide the antagonist’s response or experience; this is especially problematic (for us) when they are still living. As an organization that understands the struggles in overcoming trauma, and the need for separation and revelation, we also recognize that arriving at mutual understanding, if not reconciliation, is most likely achieved through less public confrontations. Hence, our selection here is not comprehensive, in our attempt to highlight books that reveal the subtleties of sibling relationships and the impacts they can have on the course of one’s life.

Biden, Hunter. Beautiful Things: A Memoir. 2021. Gallery Publishing Group. NPR Review. [Hunter, son of the U.S. President, details his relationship with his brother, Beau, and how the grief over Beau’s death changed him.]

Burrus, A Embry. The Life We Choose: A Sibling’s Story. 2017.

Chopra, Deepak and Sanjiv Chopra. Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream. 2013.

Duplass, Mark and Jay Duplass. Like Brothers. 2018. Ballantine Books.

Fell, Lynda Cheldelin and Christine Bastone (Eds.). Grief Diaries: Loss of a Sibling. 2015. AlyBlue Media. [The stories of 13 people who grieved for a sibling]

Gigante, Denise. The Keats Brothers: The Life of John and George. 2013. [Read an interview with the author here.]

Girard, Pascal (author and illustrator), translated by Helge Dascher. Nicolas (A Petit Livre). 2009. Drawn & Quarterly. Québec, CA. [Autobiographical vignettes illustrating the author’s experiences related to his brother’s death, throughout his life.]

Granata, Vince. Everything is Fine: A Memoir. 2021. USA [A man struggles to come to terms with his brother’s schizophrenia and crime of matricide.]

Greenfeld, Karl Taro. Boy Alone: A Brother’s Memoir. 2010. Harper Perennial. [Acclaimed journalist, Greenfeld, writes about his relationship with his younger brother, Noah, who is autistic. Noah had already been the subject of a trilogy written by his father, celebrated novelist Josh Greenfeld: A Child Called NoahA Place for Noah, and A Client Called Noah.]

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America. 2020. W. W. Norton & Company. [A biography focusing on two of three estranged sisters, born to a Confederate family, who found companionship with Jewish partners and sought advance progressive notions of race, sex, and labor through their writing.]

Heilmann, Lena M.Q. (Ed.). Still With Us: Voices of Sibling Suicide Loss Survivors. 2019. BDI Publishers.

Howard, Ron and Clint Howard. The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family. 2021. William Morrow.

Karasik, Paul and Judy Karasik. Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family. 2004. Washington Square Press. [Part narrative, part comic, Paul and Judy write about living with their older, autistic brother, David.]

Keaton, Diane. Brother & Sister: A Memoir. 2021.

Leddy, Kyleigh. The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister. 2022. Harper. [A memoir of how the author’s older sister, diagnosed with schizophrenia, becomes violent years before disappearing just before the author’s 17th birthday.]

Lesser, Elizabeth. Marrow: Love, Loss and What Matters Most. 2017.

Ling, Laura and Lisa Ling. Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home. 2011.

Mansbach, Adam. I Had a Brother Once: A Poem, A Memoir. 2021.

Nemerov, Alexander. Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus & Howard Nemerov. 2015. Fraenkel Gallery. USA. [Part memoir, part biography, two essays written by Alexander Nemerov, nephew of photographer, Diane Arbus, and son of her older brother, poet Howard Nemerov. Review by The Literate Lens.]

Nimura, Janice P. The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine. 2021. W. W. Norton & Company. USA. [A biography of Elizabeth, the first woman doctor in the US, and her sister Emily, who also became a doctor, yet they lived very different lives. NYT Book Review]

Rudnick, Susan. Edna’s Gift: How My Broken Sister Taught Me to Be Whole. 2019. She Writes Press. 

Saline, Carol, and Sharon J. Wohlmuth. Sisters (10th Anniversary Edition). 2004. Running Press. USA. [A popular photoessay, with photographs by Wohlmuth.]

Scott, Joyce Wallace. Entwined: Sisters and Secrets in the Silent World of Artist Judith Scott (Illustrated). 2016. Beacon Press. [The author rescues her fraternal twin sister, who has Down syndrome, from an institution, allowing her to blossom in life, and as a renowned artist.]

Simon, Rachel. Riding the Bus with My Sister. 2013. Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition. [Rachel shares adventures and learning from riding local buses with her intellectually disabled sister, Beth.]

Van Gogh, Vincent. Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, and Nienke Bakker (Eds.). Ever Yours: The Essential Letters (Abridged). 2014. Yale University Press. [Personal letters written by Vincent van Gogh to his younger brother, Theo, printed posthumously and without Vincent’s permission.]

Verlinden, Willem-Jan. The Van Gogh Sisters. 2021. Thames & Hudson. [From numerous letters written to and by the three sisters of Vincent and Theo, along with other historical documents, we learn the stories of this family, and better understand Vincent’s place in it.]

Wohlmuth, Sharon J., and Carol Saline. Best Friends. 1998. Doubleday Publishing. USA. [A photoessay by the authors of Sisters, with photographs by Wohlmuth.]

Fiction

Adam, Claire. Golden Child: A Novel. 2020. Hogarth. [How does the disappearance of a twin, teenaged son impact a family? In illustrating this dynamic, we see the profound influence that assigned roles and characteristics have on the ways that family members perceive and relate to one another.]

Adams, Richard. Watership Down. 1972. Rex Collings, Ltd. UK. [Young adult novel depicting a rabbit warren surviving the onslaught of human development, and the patriarchal tyranny of another warren. The story is propelled by the decisions made by a clairvoyant rabbit, Fiver, and his devoted brother Hazel.]

Addonia, Sulaiman. Silence is My Mother Tongue. 2020. The Indigo Press. UK. [Two siblings survive a Sudanese refugee camp through their close bond, defying socially prescribed roles, including those of gender.]

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. 1862.

Cleaver, Vera and Bill. Where the Lilies Bloom. 1969. Harper and Row. [Young adult novel of 14 year old girl keeping her brother and sisters together in the Great Smoky Mountains.]

Davenport, Marcia. My Brother’s Keeper. 1954. Charles Scribner. USA. [Loosely based on the publicized story of the Collyer brothers.]

Dean, Abigail. Girl A: A Novel. Viking. 2021. USA. [A girl witnesses the abuse of her siblings.]

Dickens, Charles. Dombey and Son. 1848. Bradbury & Evans. UK.

Doctrow, E. L. Homer & Langley. 2009. Random House. USA. [An allegorical tale inspired by the Collyer brothers.]

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. 1880. Russia.

Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. 1860.

Fowler, Karen Joy. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves: A Novel. 2013. USA. [One cannot adequately review the book without a spoiler. It was, however, shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.]

Grimm, Jacob and Wilhem Grimm. Hansel and Gretel. There are many editions of this story by the Brothers Grimm, and some exceptional retellings such as the 1999 version by Rika Lesser, and Paul O. Zelinsky (Illustrator), or the 2008 version by Cynthia Rylant, and Jen Corace (Illustrator).

——-. The Singing Bone (German: Der singende Knochen). Tale number 28, Aarne-Thompson type 780. [After a younger brother kills a boar to win the hand of a princess, the older brother kills the younger and secretly buries his remains. A shepherd notices a bone, and fashions a horn which sings of the crime. Variations of a ballad about two sisters (Cruel Sister, The Twa Sisters) are also popular, as is the folk tale Binnoire.]

Hurst, James. The Scarlet Ibis in Elements of Literature: Third Course. 2003. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. [A short story wherein an older brother recounts and tries to figure out the life of his younger brother, born with significant physical and mental disabilities, and his relationship with him. Review.]

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Funerals for Horses. 1997. Russian Hill Press. USA.

Johnson, Daisy. Sisters: A Novel. 2020. Riverhead Books. UK. [A gothic mystery. NPR Review.]

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Lowland. 2013. Alfred A. Knopf / Random House.

Lee, Mira T. Everything Here Is Beautiful. 2018.

Marshall, James Vance. 1959. Walkabout. Michael Joseph Ltd. Australia.

O’Neill, Eugene. Long Day’s Journey into Night. 1956. USA. [O’Neill’s powerful Pulitzer Prize winning autobiographical drama of family dysfunction stirred by drugs and alcohol has been interpreted in several film, television, and stage productions.]

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men. 1937. Covici-Friede. USA. [Illustrates the relationship between two brothers who work as migrant field workers, one of whom is mentally challenged.]

Walter, Jess. The Cold Millions: A Novel. 2020. USA. [After their mother dies, 16 yo Gig and his 23 yo brother Rye travel from Montana to Spokane, WA and become embroiled in the economic turmoil at the beginning of the 20th century. Historical fiction.]

White, Edmund. A Saint from Texas. 2020. USA. [Identical twin sisters aspire to different kinds of lives, and reflect on the journey and the learning along the way.]

Zhang, C Pam. How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel. 2020. Riverhead Books. USA. [Celebrated first novel about two siblings, 11 and 12, orphaned by the deaths of their Chinese laborer parents, who make their way as outsiders through the California hills during the Gold Rush. NPR Review. Nashville Scene review.]

Young Readers

Harper, Charise Mericle, and Rory Lucey (Illustrator). Bad Sister. 2021. First Second. USA. (8-12 years). [A girl reflects on a range of destructive emotions towards her younger brother.]

Hood, Ann. Jude Banks, Superhero. 2021. Penguin Workshop. USA. (8-12 years) [A boy copes with the death of his slightly older sister. Read the NYT Book Review]

Rhodes, Jewell Parker. Black Brother, Black Brother. 2020. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. (8-12 years). [Two biracial brothers: one passes for white, the other faces the challenges of colorism.]

Johnson, Varian, and Shannon Wright (Illustrator). Twins: A Graphic Novel. 2020. Graphix. (8-12 years). [Twin girls deal with personality differences, racism, school, and everyday life. Read an interview here.]

Journal Articles & Chapters

Caffaro, John. Sexual Abuse of Siblings in The SAGE Handbook of Domestic Violence, n.d., 758–78. doi:10.4135/9781529742343.N46.

Cicirelli, Victor G. Sibling Relationships in Cross-Cultural Perspective in Journal of Marriage and Family 56, no. 1 (1994) : 7-20.

Conger, K. J., Bryant, C. M., & Brennom, J. M. 2004. The changing nature of adolescent sibling relationships. In R. D. Conger, F. O. Lorenz, & K. A. S. Wickrama (Eds.), Continuity and change in family relations: Theory, methods, and empirical findings (pp. 319-344). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Greene, Eric. Family Spirals Addresses ‘The Link’ and Sibling Abuse in LINK-Letter 5, no. 2 (2012) : 7.

Linscott, Jessica G. and Leslie D. Leve. Parent-Child and Sibling Relational Problems in Goldstein S., DeVries M. (eds.), Handbook of DSM-5 Disorders in Children and Adolescents Springer, Cham. (2017) 565–581. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57196-6_29

Nayder, Lillian. “The Omission of His Only Sister’s Name”: Letitia Austin and the Legacies of Charles Dickens. Dickens Quarterly 28, no. 4 (2011) : 251-60.

Patton, William Wesley, and Sara Latz. Severing Hansel from Gretel: An Analysis of Siblings’ Association Rights in University of Miami Law Review 48 (1994) : 745-808.

Rapoza, Kimberly A., Kelley Cook, Tanvi Zaveri, and Kathleen Malley-Morrison. Ethnic Perspectives on Sibling Abuse in the United States. Journal of Family Issues 31, no. 6 (June 2010): 808–29.

Rebar, Darren, Nathan W. Bailey, Benjamin J. M. Jarrett, and Rebecca M. Kilner. An evolutionary switch from sibling rivalry to sibling cooperation, caused by a sustained loss of parental care in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117, no. 5 (2/2020) : 2544-2550; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1911677117.

Shebloski, B., Conger, K. J., & Widaman, K. Reciprocal links among differential parenting, perceived partiality, and self-worth: A three-wave longitudinal studyJournal of Family Psychology. Special issue: Sibling relationship contributions to individual and family well-being (2005) : 19, 633-642.

Updegraff, K. A., McHale, S. M., Killoren, S. E., and Rodríguez, S. A. Cultural variations in sibling relationships in J. Caspi (ed.), Sibling development: Implications for mental health practitioners (2011) : 83–105.

News & Magazine Articles

Anonymous. Let’s Talk About Sibling Abuse in Feminism In India. July 13, 2017. [A personal story about sibling bullying, trauma, and its impact on one’s feelings about other family members – from India.]

Brenner, Bayla Sheva. A Stinging Silence: Living with Family Estrangement in Jewish Action, the Magazine of the Orthodox Union. Fall, 2016.

Davis, Donna. How Twin Culture Challenges Our Notions of Self in Sapiens. August 18, 2016.

Heath, Thomas. How to divvy up the inheritance – and keep the family together in The Washington Post. June 1, 2018.

Linn-Gust, Michelle. Sibling Survivors of Suicide in Legacy Connect. [We included her book above]

Lyon, Lindsay. 9 Mistakes Adult Siblings Make When Parents Are Aging, Sick, and Dying in U.S. News & World Report. Jan. 28, 2010. [Summarizing excerpts from Francine Russo book, They’re Your Parents, Too!, listed above]

Moskowitz, Hannah. How my bisexual big sister blazed a path for me in Xtra Magazine. December 18, 2018.

O’Connor, Anahad. When the Bully Is a Sibling in New York Times. June 17, 2013.

Rando, Therese. Adult Loss of a Sibling in Legacy Connect.

Reid, Jay. How to Deal With an Abusive Sibling in WikiHow. Updated: October 2, 2021. [Geared to children and teens, the author problematically calls for estrangement when all else fails. We suggest distance until things can be improved — while seeking adult support.]

Sidhu, Shawn. The Importance of Siblings in University of New Mexico Health Sciences Newsroom. January 7, 2019.

Sosa Wright, Ben. My twin died when we were 18. I’m finally finding the words to talk about him in Xtra Magazine. May 11, 2021.

Wolke, Dieter. First-borns may have higher IQ but sibling bonds are what really shape our future in The Conversation. October 19, 2015.

Annotated Bibliographies

Frazier, Billie H. Selected Resources on Sibling Abuse: An Annotated Bibliography for Researchers, Educators and Consumers. 1994. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“This bibliography, begun in July 1993, is a compilation of selected materials on Sibling Abuse, a type of family violence which receives little attention. Although the topic is relatively obscure, the literature review revealed that sibling abuse, or violence between siblings, is quite common. In fact, it has been shown to be even more common than child abuse (by parents) or spouse abuse.”