Maybe you spent the majority of your childhood in a love-hate relationship with your sisters or brothers, but since it’s National Sibling Day, it’s time to put all that aside and tell them how much you love them. Even if they drove you crazy from the ages of 13 to 18. Even if they stole all your clothes and shoes. You’re stuck with them, so you may as well make the most of it.
Or maybe you are so tight with your siblings that you can read each other’s minds. Unless you become mortal enemies, there are few relationships closer than that of a sibling. You share family, history, secrets, and, sometimes, a bathroom, a car, and a computer. You can call them anytime of day or night, and they’ll listen. They know about your most embarrassing moments and your darkest secrets. In the best of times, they’re your lifeline.
Siblings in literature can be loving, riddled with jealousy, close as two peas in a pod, or oh-so-perfect yet oh-so-different like twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield in the classic Sweet Valley High series. Like the poet Kim Kardashian once so eloquently said, “Having lots of siblings is like having built-in best friends.” Beautifully put.
On that note, celebrate National Sibling Day by taking a look at some of the coolest siblings in literature. Well, some of them are cool, some are odd, and some are endearing. Whatever way you slice it, read.
Franny and Zooey by J.S. Salinger
Salinger’s brother-sister duo suffers existential angst and intellectual ennui, but despite their differences they’re there for each other. Each short story in the novella was first published in The New Yorker, and if you’re a fan of Catcher in the Rye and haven’t read this one yet, here’s a good excuse to remedy that.
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
I don’t know if Cathy and Chris — the tortured siblings in Andrews’ soapy series — are cool, but they’re definitely… interesting. Their relationship is creepy-close, and the melodrama is high. And that’s putting it mildly.
The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving
It’s hard not to compare Wes Anderson’s Royal Tenenbaums and Grand Budapest Hotel to Irving’s eccentric Berry family. They own a hotel, dress in quirky outfits, and they have a pet bear. There’s a 1980s movie version with Rob Lowe and Jodie Foster playing some Flowers in the Attic-esque siblings (but this version is quirky, not creepy... OK, maybe a little creepy), so if you’re a fan of unconventional, oddball siblings, you’ll love this.
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
This graphic novel is the sequel to Telgemeier’s Eisner-award winning Smile, and it’s about a little girl (named Raina) dealing with the arrival of her baby sis Amara. It’s about the evolution of a relationship between sisters, and if sweet and charming is more your style, that’s what Telgemeier delivers.
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Twins Viola and Sebastian are torn apart and separated during a shipwreck, and comedy and lots of jokes about mistaken identity ensue. In the end, Sebastian comes to his sister’s rescue — in a very Shakespearean way.
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
If you’re looking for a sibling story that’s a little darker, check out Oliver’s novel about two sisters whose lives are altered by a horrific accident. It also turns into a mystery, and a psychological thriller — when one sister vanishes and the other has to solve the riddle.
Antigone by Sophocles
Antigone is one of the best female characters in ancient Greek literature — she’s a rebellious heroine, daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta (that couldn’t have been fun), and she loves her brother so much she risks her life to make sure he gets a proper burial. In other words, she was a badass, and a devoted sister to boot.
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
If you’re talking about dark, edgy sibling stories, you can’t leave out Eugenides’ tale of suburban bliss gone wrong. The five Lisbon sisters are beautiful and perfect from afar, but inside their house it’s another story. Eerie, mesmerizing, and melancholy, it might not be the most uplifting story of sibling bonds, but it’s a great book. The film version, directed by Sofia Coppola, perfectly captures the strange beauty of the book.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Elizabeth and Jane Bennett are opposites in almost every way, but their love is strong and they tell each other pretty much everything. They may fight, and go through ups and downs, but in the end there they are bonded for life.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Talk about a heart-wrenching story about sisters. When Celie and Nettie are separated by their awful, abusive father, they cling to each other for dear life. Watch the film version and see if you don’t cry. It’s a beautiful book and an emotional story with a sibling bond at its center.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Siblings Meg and Charles go on an adventure through time and space to find their father, which is more than most siblings can say they’ve done. It’s like a road trip movie through space, and Meg and Charles manage to act like normal siblings throughout their not-so-normal journey.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Siblings Nathan and Hannah react in very different ways then their sister Lydia is found dead in a nearby lake, and Ng’s book examines family bonds and the cracks that threaten to separate even the closest siblings.
So go call your sister or brother to tell her or him you care, and grab a book about sisters, brothers, or oddball sibling rivalries while you're at it.