Sunday, July 25, 2010


My 12-year-old son came home from a week at a sleepover YMCA camp yesterday. The first thing he did after coming in the house was hug his older sister. This suprised me slightly. The second thing he did was chase down his younger sister and hug her, too. This suprised me a lot! Those two can barely exchange a civil word. To see them hug (well, my son was hugging, my daughter was trying to get away) was a golden mommy moment.

One thing I love in books is the relationships between people, and one of my favorite types of relationships is the sibling relationship. I enjoyed the relationships between the reclusive Cullen siblings in the Twilight series. In Bridge to Terabithia, it's Jess's relationship with his little sister, May Belle, that left me thinking he was going to be okay despite the tragedy he'd endured. Of course, some sibling (or quasi-sibling) relationships are as bad as others are good - just ask Harry Potter.

In my current wip, my mc lives with her brother, sister, and a friend who's like part of their family. Creating these relationships was one of my favorite parts of writing the book. They tease, they fight, they get angry, they love and protect each other. Being from a family of five siblings, I know what it's like to be arguing one minute, laughing the next.

Can you think of any books with sibling relationships that you particularly enjoyed? Have you ever written about siblings?

Her name's Prim, she's just twelve, and I love her more than anything.
- Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games


Amanda J. said...

I have odd relationships with my sibling so it's nice to see 'normal' ones in books. :)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Ahh, I've still got Hunger Games on the brain, too. Loved the relationship between Prim and Katniss in those books.

I read Waiting for Normal a few weeks ago and appreciated the way the mc interacted with her two younger sisters. It made me like her even more.

My WiP has a lot of sibling stuff in it, and it's one of my favorite aspects of the book. When I started it, I wasn't expecting that. My last two books had really dysfunctional sibling relationships, so this is a nice change. :)

Great question & great post!


Nicole MacDonald said...

My current MS has siblings in it. It's fun to write them cause I draw on all the crazy things my brother and I got up to :)

Old Kitty said...

I keep going on about this book - cos it's utterly fab and a required reading for EVERYONE!! The Oustiders by SE Hinton! Sibling relationship conflict galore captured just right for the rebellious teenager!! Lovely!!

Another classic one is Mill on the Floss (George Elliot) - I love the dark and extremely complex sibling relationship explored here between Tom and Maggie Tulliver. Amazing!!

Awwww to your lovely son who missed his sisters!!! Enjoy the moment!! :-)

Take care

Susan Fields said...

Amanda - There are plenty of books out there about odd sibling relationships, too...sometimes those make the best stories.

Amy - Isn't it fun to write the sibling stuff? I deliberately put that into this book, knowing how much I enjoy reading it in other books, and it really was one of my favorite parts. And yes, I just can't seem to get Hunger Games out of my head! I've got my children reading it now, so I can relive it by constantly asking them what part they're on. :)

Nicole - I do a lot of thinking back to my childhood and the stuff I did with my siblings to add details to my book, too. And stuff my children have done. My daughter and her friend painting my son's and his friend's toenails while they were asleep made it into the book.

Old Kitty - Okay, okay - I'll reread The Outsiders! Seriously, I've been meaning to do that for a long time, I haven't read it since high school and I barely remember it. Thanks for the great suggestions!

Elaine AM Smith said...

We have a reading scheme called The Oxford Reading Tree. In these books are the brothers Kipper, Chip and sister Biff. Love them all, like family, only more so!
I think I envied them their house even more. Course, it could have been their house I wanted. ;)

Al said...

Hmm, I'll have to think about the books I've read.
I have written about siblings.
One pair are twins (non-identical male and female) they are best friends and at the same time don't quite understand each other as well as you (or they) would expect.

Joanne said...

There's something so unique about the sibling relationship, it's definitely a great relationship to explore, filled with lots of storyline potential. Their history, parents, homelife, all of it can be brought to the page.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I just finished 'If I Stay' and the relationship between the mc and her little brother reminded me of me and my lil sis. I was 15 when she was born and she was basically like my first child so i could relate with the story. I have a pair of boy girl twins in my first book and I loved their relationship. great post!

Susan Fields said...

Elaine - I love reading about a big family living in a big house, I know exactly what you mean!

Al - I still remember a book I read once (though I don't remember the title) and teenager boy/girl twins who were really good friends. I love that! You may have set another plot brewing in my head. :)

Joanne - I read an article once about what important roles siblings play in each other's lives. We don't have our children in the early part of our lives, or our parents in the latter part of our lives, but our siblings are there through it all. It really is a fascinating relationship.

Creepy Query Girl - I've always been fascinated by twins...always wished I was one, always wanted to have a set. Maybe I'll have to make a set up and write about them instead. :)

Margo Berendsen said...

I just discovered recently that I love MCs with siblings, too. Recently finished reading The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain, and I was fascinated by her relationships with her three siblings! not to mention her parents, too. Another one where I really like the sibling relationships was the Key to the Golden Firebird, a YA by Maureen Johnson.

Of course, some of my fascination might be due to the fact that I'm an only child.

Another reason might be that I have four daughters, and as soon as it was confirmed that my twins were both girls (after I got over my tears) I began thinking about how I would embark on a long term plan to journal about my girls and someday write "Little Women, 21st Century Version"

Hema P. said...

Aww, that was such a cute thing your son did!

One book that did a great job of developing a relationship gradually between the two protagonists (even though they were cousins and not siblings) was 'The Secret Garden'. I also like the brief glimpses into the relationship between Martha and her siblings in this book.

Anonymous said...

What your son did was so sweet, did you ask him if something happened? Makes me wonder what made him realize how much he loved his sisters.

Lola Sharp said...

I love that your son did that.

I don't know what to say on this topic. I had a bad childhood, and was raised with only one half-brother. I no longer have any contact with the people from that part of my life.
I married an only child (and I'm very close with his parents), and we have only one I'm not familiar with sibling relationships. Odd, I suppose, how that all worked out.

BUT, I DO LOVE reading about siblings and their relationships. I LOVED Little Women, and Narnia books when I was young.

I think what interests me most in all books is relationships in general.

Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

Talli Roland said...

Aw! Isn't that sweet! My brother would probably just haul off and hit me!

Patti Lacy said...

What a great post! And I get to know your kids a bit as well!

Loads of 'em!
Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
Little Women (of course)
A Long Way From Chicago
A bit of a different twist: My Sister's Keeper

Bossy Betty said...

Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pick me!

Best book about sibling relationships: Crow Lake.

Check it out!!

Jackee said...

Siblings ARE fun to write. I'm the oldest of five children and I catch myself analyzing how I interact with mine. Sibling Rivalry is very much instinctual in humans as well as other animals! :o)

I'm reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate right now and I love Callie's relationship with her brothers.

Susan Fields said...

Margo - Four daughters, how fun! My parents had four daughters and a son (my poor brother!) and it was always exciting at our house. :) I haven't read The Dark Divine yet, but I really want to!

Hema - Can you believe I've never read The Secret Garden, though we do own it? I've missed some really great ones - thanks for the suggestion!

Catherine - To be honest, he did hug his older sister right away, but it wasn't until his little sister ran screaming in the other direction that he hunted her down and hugged her. But I watched, and it was a real hug. But you're right, maybe he was more homesick than he let on.

Lola - Whenever I really love a book or movie, I try to figure out why, and usually it's the relationships. It's funny how people often repeat whatever situation they grew up with. My parents each came from families of five children, and they have five children. However none of their kids repeated that, we all have 2, 3, or 4.

Susan Fields said...

Talli - Like I told Catherine, it wasn't until his little sister ran screaming in the other direction that my son decided he needed to hug her, but it was a real hug, which was nice. :) My brother was so much older than me, he probably wouldn't have noticed I was in the house.

Patti - Great suggestions! My Sister's Keeper is on my TBR list. :)

Bossy Betty - I will check it out! I'm making a note of it right now. Thanks for the suggestion!

Jackee - I'm the youngest of five children. Even though we're both from families of five, I'll bet the youngest and oldest have vastly different experiences. Now that my siblings and I are all married with families, though, it doesn't make much difference anymore (though I truly believe our birth order has made a difference in our personalities - but that's a topic for another post.) :)

Kimberly Franklin said...

Those are all good examples of great siblings in books. I'm dealing with a sibling relationship in my book right now. Well, kind of.

Vicki Rocho said...

I can't think of a title right now, but I really like best friend / sister relationships. I have 3 sisters, but they are 12-17 years older than I am. I would say we're close, but I've always craved that person you can tell anything to kind of relationship.

Lydia Kang said...

Yeah, the Cullen sibling stuff is quite interesting. They're siblings, and they're adopted, and they're all hooking up with each other.
Oh, those rule-breaking vampires!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Aww...I'm blown away by K hugging everyone! I hope he had a good time at camp.

Shelley Sly said...

I love sibling characters, too! I'm super close with my sister. We're 17 months apart, so close that we argued constantly until our late teens. Now we're drastically different from each other and get along really well -- no more competition.

I have several sets of siblings in my latest book, and their interactions are some of my favorites. They love each other, but sometimes they can't stand each other!

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I have four sisters in real life -- no brothers -- and I know one day I'll write a story based on my experiences growing up in an estrogen-ripe house. (Actually, the drama between us in our adult lives is much more...interesting.)

Your son sounds like a sweetie at heart!

Culture Served Raw said...

That's a very interesting thing to think about. Peter Carey often explore vey unusual and disturbing sibling dynamics, especially in Bliss. Don't want to know about his upbringing though!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Susan--You won a random daily prize over at my blog. I'm NOT going to mail it to you...I'll bring it with me next week, if that's okay...If not let me know.

Jen said...

What an awesome post!!! I loved it! I must say that I love The Truth Tellers Tale, they are sisters, mirror twins and their relationship is rocky at the beginning but you know they'd do anything for the other. It's awesome :)

Come by to see what Stella looks like!

Susan Fields said...

Kimberly - My sibling situation is also a "sort of" because the one "family" member isn't really part of the family - that makes things interesting.

Vicki - My sisters are all several years older than me, too - but not that much! The older we get, the less it matters, but that's quite a gap you've got there.

Lydia - You know, I wasn't even thinking about the fact that the Cullens are all hooking up with each other - excellent point! I was thinking more about Edward's relationships with his siblings, which comes out a lot more in Midnight Sun that in Twilight (and is especially interesting since he can read their thoughts!)

Sharon - Kevin had a great time at camp! He's already planning to go back next year.

Susan Fields said...

Shelley - My two oldest children are fifteen months apart. People thought I was just nuts when I got pregnant with my second, but I wouldn't have it any other way. They're a girl and a boy, so that makes a huge difference, but they get along great!

Nicole - Thanks, my son really is a sweetie! Of course, he'll be a teen at the end of this week, so who knows what we have to look forward to in the years to come!

Culture - Yes, sibling relationships can be great, not-so-great, or even disturbing. Luckily I don't have any personal experience with that! :)

Susan Fields said...

Sharon - No, I can't wait, I must have it now! Just kidding, next week will be great! Can't wait to see you. :)

Jen - That's one thing I really love about siblings, that they'd do anything for each other, even if they fight like cats and dogs otherwise. I'll be right over to see Stella!

Theresa Milstein said...

I like the Prim and Katniss relationship in The Hunger Games.

J.K. Rowling does great dynamics between the Weasley siblings in Harry Potter. And who doesn't love the twins?

My first manuscript had a great brother/sister relationship. There were other problems with it, but not that. I'd like to dig it up someday.

Susan Fields said...

Theresa - I thought of the Weasleys, too - the twins in particular, and also how Percy turned against the family. I always thought it was so neat that so many of them went to the same school at the same time. My four siblings all went to high school together, but I was too far behind. Good luck with that old manuscript!

MT said...

I haven't thought about this before, but now I realize the mc in my current wip is an only child - like me. I feel more attached to this mc and perhaps now I know why. Let me think...has someone else already mentioned Pride and Prejudice or Little Women. Those sisterly relationships really stick in my memory.
Have a great week!

Velva said...

I should be hanging my head in shame. I can't think of a single darn book that I have read that the sibling relationships really stood out to me. It's those darn cookbooks or food related books I read (laugh).

Susan Fields said...

Michelle - I tend to like to write about big families, probably because I came from one. But when I wrote this post, I noticed that an unusually large proportion of the mc's in the books on my bookshelves are only children. I wonder why that is?

Velva - Don't hang your head - it's okay! Maybe when I can bake a plum cobbler like the one on your post today, I'll give you a hard time about not remembering a book with sibling relationships that stood out to you. :)