Through life’s triumphs and difficulties, sisters share a unique bond. These books capture the spirit of sisterhood in all of its drama and flawed beauty.
By Jessica Dukes
Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
Schaitkin’s brilliant debut novel is a study of the peculiar intersection of grief, race, and privilege. Claire has lived most of her life missing the older sister she barely knew, after Alison died during a vacation to the Caribbean island of Saint X. Her case sits unsolved, and life drags on, until the day Claire meets Clive, one of the suspects in Alison’s death. At first, she doesn’t tell Clive that she knows him, hoping he’ll expose the past. Over time, a complicated picture of her sister emerges, one that Claire has to reconcile with her own beliefs about what went wrong years ago.
The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
Like many twins, Laurel and Daphne spoke their own secret language as young children. Now adults, Daphne’s a purist copy editor, and Laurel plays fast and loose with words as an experimental poet. In other words, language has become a reason to bicker. Their verbal feud escalates when the sisters find themselves locked in a comic (yet very serious) battle over their family’s rare copy of Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition.
The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Chloe has always been the responsible, career-driven sister. Nicky is the rebellious one, who eventually lands in marriage and motherhood. Over the years, with different lives, they’ve grown apart. Fast-forward 15 years, Chloe is married to Nicky’s ex-husband, who has just been murdered, and Nicky’s son is a suspect. It’s not the reunion they wanted, but now the two sisters must work together and save what’s left of their families.
Mischling by Affinity Konar
Pearl and Stasha cling to each other for survival at Auschwitz in 1944. Subjects of a horrifying experiment on twins called Mengele’s Zoo, the girls are forcibly, emotionally ripped apart. Pearl vanishes before Auschwitz is liberated, but Stasha believes she is alive. In the search for her sister, Stasha must survive a shattered and dangerous landscape, a world where no one seems to care.
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
Their mother died young, leaving the Butler children to be raised by the oldest sister, Althea, who is now a pillar of her society. When Althea and her husband are exposed, shamed, and arrested for fraud, it’s up to sisters Lillian and Viola to take care of their teenage nieces. In the heat of a scandal, in seclusion as a family, they learn how disorders and mistakes are passed from one generation to the next.
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
Autumn’s twin sister, Summer, disappears without a trace on a snowy December night. When the police drag their feet on the investigation, Autumn begins her own desperate search. Friends and family are supportive, but her grief grows as deep as the mystery she’s trying to solve when she discovers all the other unsolved cases of missing black women in the neighborhood.
The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
The three Shergill sisters never considered themselves to be close, even as children. When their mother’s deathbed request is for her daughters to travel to India and perform final ceremonial rites, the sisters agree to go. In their mother’s homeland, despite feeling like tourists and not quite understanding what’s expected of them, Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina learn their mom’s past. In the unlikeliest way, a sisterhood is finally formed.
The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao
Estella is guilty of poisoning 300 members of her immediate and extended family, her sister Gwendolyn the only survivor. From her coma, Gwendolyn dives into her memories in a desperate attempt to understand where Estella went so wrong. As the scenes play out, we meet a wealthy family slowly unraveling under the weight of their own success and begin to see Estella in a very different light.
The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper
Sisters Rose and Lily had a beautiful childhood on the family flower farm. As adults, however, they’ve grown apart. Rose spends her life caring for her autistic daughter, Antoinette, until she gets sick and the responsibility falls to Lily. There’s one catch: Antoinette can heal with a touch, and Lily must now confront her past and protect her sister’s child at all costs.
The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay
Desperate to save their family from poverty, the four Turner sisters turn to the Vaudeville stage. In train cars and roadside tents, they come of age among an eclectic troupe of performers, making new friends and finding unexpected success. Life on the road can be dangerous, though, and the four will need to stick together to survive.
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
Elfrieda seems to have it all – beauty, talent, fame, and love. Her sister Yolandi is a divorced single mom, more of a work in progress. Raised in a strict Mennonite home, the two sisters are battling a secret. Elf has a history of attempted suicide, and Yoli has been her rescuer every time. Now, Yoli has to wonder how much longer she can prevent the inevitable.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters are separated in 18th-century Ghana when Effia is married off to a British slave trader, while Esi is sold into slavery and sent to America. Their harrowing story is the starting point from which we see generations of their family carry the burden of slavery with them – through the American Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, the fall of British West Africa, into the present day.