Such Devoted Sisters

I, like many people, have a sister. She lives far away and we don't see each other very often, but I love her and she's often in the back of my mind. Today, I want to look at novels about sisters, the things that part them, the things they don't know about each other, and the things that might bring them to a better understanding of each other.

Fishnet is an excellent debut by Kirsten Innes. Rona disappeared twice from her sister Fiona's life, the second time leaving her infant daughter along with unanswered questions. Six years later, Fiona decides to upend her bland life, starting by looking for Rona, and it leads her in some unexpected directions involving the sex trade. As much about Fiona's awakening as Rona's disappearance, this is both a tough and sympathetic book.

In the compassionate, heart-rending A Pure Heart, Rajia Hassib writes of two Egyptian sisters, Rose and Gameela, who take different paths. Rose becomes an Egyptologist and moves to New York with her American husband. Gameela shocks her liberal family by taking up conservative Islam. When Gameela is killed by a suicide bomber post Arab Spring, Rose returns and discovers a trove of secrets her pious sister was keeping, leading her to a better understanding of Gameela and the rest of her family.

Victor Lodato creates a perfectly beguiling heroine in Mathilda Savitch. Set in the near future where terrorists abound in the West, teenage Mathilda sets out to find her older sister's murderer and does not find what she expects; instead, she discovers her sister's hidden life and has to decide what to do with that knowledge. Lodato memorably writes of the effect death has on the living in Mathilda's unique, lyrical voice.

In the late 21st century, twins Tila and Taema are conjoined at the heart and live in an anti-tech commune in Laura Lam's False Hearts. When their heart fails, the sisters are separated and given artificial ones. They go their own ways, until ten years later when Tila is accused of killing a crime boss and scientist Taema goes in search of the truth. While the world-building may not be terribly inventive, Lam skillfully explores the ideas of identity, mind control, and familial love with telling detail.

Have more books of sisters parted? Tell us in the comments.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of Chicago Public Library