• The cover of the book The Sound and the Fury

    The Sound and the Fury

    Faulkner’s masterpiece is a fractured portrait of four siblings coming of age in the ashes of the post-Civil War South. He wrote The Sound and the Fury after his first three books failed to garner him much critical or commercial success, and the result is his most formally complex novel but also his most deeply felt. “Did you ever have a sister?” Quentin Compson says, and the line reads like a belligerent challenge to anyone who might question that bond. This is a book about growing up and growing apart, a haunting and tender ode to the lost childhood of siblings.

     
  • The cover of the book The Most Fun We Ever Had

    The Most Fun We Ever Had

    This story of four sisters wrestling with the messy realities of adulthood was one of my favorite novels of last year. It’s witty, large-hearted, and beautifully written. The Sorenson sisters are all drowning in their own private despair, concerned that their lives don’t measure up to those of their parents, or their siblings. It’s a feeling anyone from a large family can probably relate to.

     
  • The cover of the book Family of Origin

    Family of Origin

    A lot of sibling narratives fall under the banner of domestic fiction, which often involves people sitting around living rooms discussing old hurts and betrayals. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s always nice when a novel incorporates a slightly more exotic locale. After learning that their father has died, estranged half-siblings Elsa and Nolan Grey travel to an island where a group of eccentric scientists are studying a rare sea duck, who, they believe, is proof that evolution is running in reverse. This book is hilarious and wise, and my only regret is not reading it sooner.

     
  • The cover of the book East of Eden

    East of Eden

    Steinbeck may be best known for The Grapes of Wrath, but East of Eden has always been my favorite. The biblical references run deep in this story set in his beloved Salinas valley, and nowhere is that more apparent than in sibling rivalry between the two brothers, Cal and Aron. Much like The Sound and the Fury, it’s a novel about the dissolution of an American family, though told in a far more conventional style.

     
  • The cover of the book This Is Where I Leave You

    This Is Where I Leave You

    On the opening page of Tropper’s novel, the narrator, Judd Foxman, remarks, “There is no occasion calling for sincerity that the Foxman family won’t quickly diminish or pervert through our own genetically engineered brand of irony and evasion.” The tone is quickly and hilariously established in this story of a family coming together to mourn the death of their father. This is a novel that expertly balances humor and pathos, without ever coming off as flippant or saccharine.