sibling relationship books

11 Popular Novels that Explore Sibling Relationships

Siblings they are our best friends as well as our worst enemies. If you have elder sibling(s), you would have already gotten a sneak-peek on how your future would be; from bullying to dating, from fashion to football, they give us tips on everything. If you are parenting siblings, you will definitely know the challenges and rewards of raising them. With Rakshabandhan around the corner, we have compiled a list of famous novels that explore sibling relationships. These sibling relationship books not only make a good gift to your siblings or children, but will evoke some nostalgic memories of your own childhood when you read or re-read them now.

  1. Pride and Prejudice The Bennet Sisters

The moment someone mentions this epic novel by Jane Austen, we all scream Mr. Darcy. Yes, we do know that Pride and Prejudice is the epitome of romantic ideals. However, the relationships among five very unique sisters was well-described by the author. One of the well-explored books on the themes of sibling relationships, Pride and Prejudice discusses the rivalries, frustrations, and critiques of the five sisters coupled with some strong mutual affection for one another.

This book is one of the biggest examples of the fact that siblings who grow up together need not necessarily share similar mannerisms, behaviors, or even values. The book also shows us that despite all these striking differences in attitudes, siblings share a bond that cannot be broken, no matter what.

 

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

  1. The Lowland Subhash and Udayan

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Jhumpa Lahiri weaves a magic with her narrative in her second novel – The Lowland. Nominee of the Man Booker Prize, this novel is about the contradictory lives of two brothers, Subhash and Udayan. Born in Calcutta, now Kolkatta, the brothers are inseparable and like-minded in their childhood. However, their ideologies gradually differ when Subhash moves away from home to the U.S. for higher education while Udayan stays in their hometown and joins a political rebellion.

What makes this book unputdownable is the unexpected yet smooth shifts in points of view which happen in different time periods. Also, the storytelling method of Ms. Lahiri is unique and quirky while echoing the experiences of the brothers. As you read this novel, you will be taken into a world of love and the complications associated with it. From topics as simple as friendship between brothers to something as sensitive as homosexuality, Ms. Lahiri handles the narration of various emotions in quite a perfect manner. All these and more make this book a worthy read for everyone.

 

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

  1. Beezus and Ramona

A children’s novel written by Beverly Cleary, in the year 1955, Beezus and Ramona is the first book in the Ramona book series. Written in the point of view of the 9-year-old Beezus alias Beatrice, this book takes us through the lives of Beezus and her younger sister Ramona. Filled with illustrations and quirky and funny incidents, this book erupts laughter at most places.

A typical example of sibling rivalry and misunderstandings, this book reminds you of your childhood days with your sister. While the relationship between the protagonist siblings are haphazard, the sibling relationship and bonding between Beezus and Ramona’s mom and their aunt is beautiful, strong, and gives you sibling relationship goals.

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

  1. Twelfth Night Viola and Sebastin

Remember the comedy drama by the Bard that many of us would have enacted or read in high school? Twelfth Night takes sibling relationship to a whole new level. Viola and Sebastin, twins separated in a shipwreck, are the protagonists of this tale. Viola disguises as a young man under the name Cesario and enters Duke Orsino’s service, where she falls in love with the Duke, who in turn is in love with Countess Olivia. To make the things more confusing, Olivia falls in love with Cesario (Viola).

The tale enters into a complete comedy-of-error phase when Sebastin, who was saved from the shipwreck, enters their lives. An American romantic comedy movie named She’s The Man was inspired from Twelfth Night and it was considered as the modernization of the original Shakespearean play.

 

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird Jem and Jean Louise Finch

Considered as the classic of modern American literature, this Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Harper Lee focuses on the life of Jean Louise Finch and her older brother, Jem. The novel is well-celebrated for its warmth and humor. Despite dealing with the serious issues like rape and racial inequality, this book is quite a pleasant read due to the brilliant narration of Harper Lee.

The story runs over a span of three years and the main characters undergo a lot significant physical as well as psychological changes. The story is from Jeans point of view, and every girl who loved being a tomboy at one or other point of her life will correlate to Jeans character very well. The love-hate relationship between Jean and her brother reminds every sister about her relationship with her brother. With tactic brilliance in his narration, the author has made this book a gripping read.

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

 

  1. My Sisters Keeper The Fitzgerald Sisters

Jodi Picoult’s fictional drama, My Sisters Keeper, revolves around the life of the savior sister Anna Fitzgerald, who was born specifically to save her older sister Kates life. While the story predominantly revolves around medical emancipation and other legal issues, the relationship between Kate and Anna is narrated in quite an interesting manner.

The story is simple and straightforward without much drastic twists and the characterization of Anna and Kate were done to perfection. The irony in the climax will definitely give you goosebumps. If you haven’t read this book yet, you must definitely add it to your to-be-read list right away.

 

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

 

 

  1. The God of Small Things Rahel and Esthappen

One of the boldest book by an Indian Author, The God of Small Things by Arundhathi Roy deals with Indian history, politics, class relations, cultural tensions, forbidden love, social discrimination, and betrayal. The story moves back and forth between two time periods: 1969, when Rahel and Esthappen, the fraternal twins, were 7 years old and 1993, when the twins are 31 years old.

This book has one of the most well-described narrations and as the story deals with how the small things affect people’s behavior and their lives, the descriptive narration makes the already interesting book a lot more interesting. Winner of the 1997 Booker Prize, this book explores some of the taboo topics in India like Dalit casteism, genetic sexual attraction, sex outside marriage, etc.

While the book primarily deals with all these trivial yet crucial issues, the relationship between Rahel and Estha is well narrated. Also, their relationship with their cousin Sophie is quite interesting. The book clearly explores how improper living environment can affect children’s growing years.

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

  1. Measure for Measure Isabella and Claudio

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure centers around the ill-fate of Claudio and his sister Isabella. Strict and moralistic Lord Angelo, the temporary leader of Vienna, arrests Claudio impregnating his lover Juliet before marriage.

Angelo, who is left in charge of the town by the Duke, is unaware of the fact that the Duke actually pretends to leave the town, but he instead dresses up as a friar in order to observe the town in his absence. Meanwhile, Isabella, sister of Claudio, who wants to become a nun, meets Lord Angelo to beg mercy on her brother. In an unexpected manner, Angelo, taken over by her beauty, asks her to be his mistress for a day in order to release her brother.

The struggles of a woman to choose between her chastity and her love for her brother is poignantly described in this novel. The novel ends with a surprising turn of events that leaves everyone happy. Despite the fact that this tale is supposedly a comedy, the narration, tone, and setting defy those expectations.

 

novels that explore sibling relationships 

 

  1. Little Women – The March Sisters

Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is about the lives of the four March sisters. At the start of the story, the two youngest ones enter adolescence, while the older two are already teenagers. From there, the story takes readers into the next 15 years of their lives. Written in a completely pronounced and omniscient voice, this book will remind you of all the adolescent life that you would have spent with your sisters.

While each girl has an imaginary life that she hopes, each of them end with a very different future. This book deals with sibling relationships, differences, misunderstandings, girls dreams and hopes in the complicated society, coming-of-age, and lots more. A must read for every adolescent, this book is well appreciated for its unique theme. This book is guaranteed to take you from childhood to womanhood with its brilliant plot line.

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

 

 

  1. Dombey and Son Florence and Paul

Written by Charles Dickens, the Dombey and Son novel explores human relationships, especially a relationship between father and his children and sibling relationship, in detail. This story shows the cruel attitude of a father, who longs for and loves his son while abandoning his daughter. The story is brilliantly narrated from a cruel dad’s point of view. Mr. Dickens is known for his unique narration, especially from the point of view of a protagonist who has negative shades.

Apart from this signature style of Mr. Dickens, the story is also well-appreciated for the heartwarming relationship that Paul Jr. shares with his sister Florence. The story discusses some of the crucial issues of mankind like chauvinism, preference for male heir, and biased parenting. The closing lines of this tale are something that will make you smile and cry at the same time. This book is a must read for both children as well as their parents as it discusses family bond in the most unique way.

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

 

 

  1. Sense & Sensibility The Dashwood Sisters

How can we write about sibling relationships and not add Elinor and Marianne Dashwood to the list? It was said that 19-year-old Jane Austen wrote the first draft of this novel in an epistolary form and titled it as Elinor and Marianne. The present title adds a philosophical touch to the book and the character of the two sisters.

Revolving around the sensible Elinor and the romantic Marianne, the story takes us into their lives, which is filled with love, betrayal, heartbreaks, misunderstanding, and affection. The relationship between the two sisters is unique in its own way yet there are parts where every girl with a sister can relate to. One of the classics from Jane Austen, this book is the best gift that you can give to your sisters,

novels that explore sibling relationships

 

 

All of these novels, in one way or the other, make us realize that having siblings may not always be a pleasure, but at the end of the day, you feel protected, loved, and safe because you will always have someone who has your back, no matter what. Have you read all of these books? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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Aishwarya Mukundarajan

Aishwarya is an MBA graduate from Symbiosis International University, Pune. When asked what her hobbies are she points to an overflowing bookcase.

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