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About My Sisters    by Debra Ginsberg order for
About My Sisters
by Debra Ginsberg
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

We are family ... all my sisters ... and me! In About My Sisters, Ginsberg takes stock of her life, analyzing sibling relationships with honesty. She takes us through the trials and triumphs of family love, the bonds of one sister to another, and discusses sisters as a whole. Included in the family composite is brother Bo, son Blaze, and parents, all living within close proximity to each other. The complexity and dynamics of 'sisterhood' and family are shared straight from the author's heart.

Debra Ginsberg delivers a beautifully-rendered accounting of the 'ultimate girlfriends', her sisters. Differing in chosen careers - musician Maya, actress Deja, real estate agent Lavander, and herself, the writer - they are nevertheless mirror-reflections of each other. The author draws on memories of childhood and adulthood with reflections of joy, sadness, anger, estrangement, laughter and tinges of humor. Experiencing the normal squabbles of siblings, their lives are interwoven with unbreakable deep ties, 'mirrors of each other's womanhood'. Debra, the oldest, refers to Maya and herself as the 'starter children', since the next three siblings were born years later. When entering adolescence, Debra speaks of next-in-age Maya as left behind, still desiring imaginary childhood games.

Ginsberg shares her need for privacy, feelings of sadness, depression, and frailty, and is conscious that her family is different from those of peers. She explores her relationship with each family member, and observes her son Blaze and his different interactions with his aunts. This is a casual read about family life, with all its heartaches, squabbles, laughter, tears and special moments tinged with humor. The latter glows in an exchange between Maya and Debra ... 'Maya would start a sentence and I will finish it ... "I was going to say that" she tells me. "Why don't you get out of my head and get your own thoughts?" "I was born first", I answer her. "I had those thoughts before you!".' Within the complexity of differing minds, lies a strong support system. According to Maya, 'We are supportive… that's why we offer our opinions, to help you in the choices you make.'

Overall, About My Sisters shares the flavor of family life. The complexity and dynamics of 'sisterhood' are delivered straight from the author's heart, through celebrations and crises, with candor and love. The closing of the book quotes Deja 'You're all just so ... beautiful,' she says. 'I have the most beautiful sisters in the world.' The author ends with this non-spoken reply ... 'We all share this feeling, but only Deja could give it voice. In anyone else's mouth, these words would sound syrupy and insincere. Deja manages to convey their real meaning, we are beautiful', a statement not of physical form, but of what resides inside. Amen!

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