AUTHOR GUEST POST…When I was writing Shanghai Girls, I had to do a lot of research on sisters and the bonds of sisterhood. This wasn’t too hard for me. I am a sister myself. I have a former step-sister that I’ve known since we were three and four years old. (I am and will always be the eldest. So there!) I have a half-sister who’s my mother’s daughter and a half-sister who’s my father’s daughter. I thought I knew a lot about sisters, but I’m also an obsessive researcher. I started asking everyone I knew about their relationships with their sisters. I also speak to a lot of book clubs by speaker phone and I’d ask those people about their relationships with their sisters. Then, ever since the book came out, people have wanted to tell me even more about sisters: their wonderful sisters who they love to pieces, their sisters who drive them crazy, and their sisters that they haven’t spoken to in five, ten, twenty, even forty years. (I have now talked to two women who haven’t spoken to their sisters in over forty years.) Here’s what I’ve learned:
Sisterhood is complicated! The sibling relationship is typically the longest one we’ll have in our lifetimes. Our parents die, our significant enter our lives usually when we’re in our twenties or even thirties, and our children and grandchildren come along even later than that. Since a sister knows you basically your entire life, she should stand by you, love you, and support you no matter what. And yet your sister also knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt you the most, just as you know exactly where to drive the knife to hurt her too.
So much of sisterhood is about sibling rivalry. I know this, because I not only experienced it as a kid but just last week. It never goes away. (See the first paragraph where I bragged that I would always be the eldest.) We all want to be Mom’s favorite or Dad’s favorite. We’ve all been hurt at one time or another by discovering that we aren’t the favorite one on a particular day, week, year, or lifetime. Some of this is petty stuff and can revolve around truly insignificant things, but some of it is cruel and bitter too. Sometimes the only bond sisters have is one of distrust and hurt feelings. In Shanghai Girls, I wrote about some of these negative aspects of sisterhood, but I clung to the good ones too, just as I’ve hung on to the good aspects of my relationships with my own sisters. Because…
Sisters can be great fun. You can giggle, laugh, and gossip together. You can go to movies together and share clothes and shoes. You can tease each other (hopefully not in a hurtful way, although that does happen). Just liking each other makes a huge difference when things get tough or go bad. Because…
Sisters can be the buoy you hang onto when your boat sinks, the tree that shelters you in the storm, the rock that’s solid beneath your feet when the world crumbles all around you. Good times are one thing, but we all know that it’s during moments of hardship—during an illness, when you’ve lost your job, when you’re depressed just because you’re depressed, or when someone dies—that people show their true colors. Friends are great. Husbands are great. Children are great. But sometimes you just need your sister, because she knew you when you were little, because she has been there for you through thick and thin, because you know that you would do the same for her if the situation was reversed. Why? Because sisters are forever. That’s the real bond of sisterhood.
View her interview by Bookbits on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcz4GssHIXk
This book was provided for review by the The Random House Publishing Group & TLC Book Tours.