RGC's New Literary Director's Guest Blog in Ladies' Home Journal
How Sisters Shape Our Lives, a Book Club Discussion by Neely Kennedy
The special bond of siblings can often be the longest and most important relationship in our lives, transcending friends, jobs, parents, and sometimes even marriage. This month’s LHJ Book Club pick, The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen, tells the story of sisters Milly and Twiss and the heartbreak, sacrifice, love and secrets that they share through childhood, adulthood and old age.
Here are some tips to enrich your book club discussion, exploring how your sibling relationship has influenced the trajectory of your own life. Encourage members who are only children to participate, as they offer a fresh perspective to the discussion.
Back to the Sand Box: Tell a specific story from childhood that recalls a vivid memory about your sibling. Sharing personal anecdotes can make great ice breakers to get a group discussion flowing! Add some depth by asking members to bring along pictures of their sisters or brothers to share.
The sight of the Mason jars led her back to the town fair. She could see Twiss rearranging her jars of Purple Prairie Tonic from a simple line into a pyramid, trying to sell them with a manic energy and an equally manic twinkle in her eye. She could see her mother and father strolling along in the late light, untwining their fingers, it seemed, just so they could entwine them again. And she could see Bett.
Stiff Competition: Competition for mom or dad’s attention is often at the heart of sibling issues. Was this the case in your family? How do you think birth order affects sibling relationships?
“Beauty gives you choices,” their father said to Milly. “Ugliness doesn’t.”… “What about me?” Twiss said. “Your hands belong on a golf club,” their father said.
Compare & Contrast: Identify the similarities and differences between you and your sibling. How have they shaped your personality?
Although Milly was the one who earned perfect grades term after term, Twiss was the one with all of the creativity and the daring. Milly may have known how to balance both ends of Mr. Stewart’s chemistry equations without making a mistake, but Twiss was the one who possessed the heart to be a real scientist.
Life Lessons: What life lessons have you learned together?
Twiss traced the rim of the teacup. “Remember what she used to say?”… The two sisters lingered in front of the sideboard, as if waiting for their mother to appear and caution them, before they took up their lists and went about their chores. “Bone china is like your heart. If it breaks, it can’t be fixed.”
The topic of sibling relationships offers so much to ponder; I hope that your book club enjoys a rich and rewarding discussion of The Bird Sisters.