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A gorgeous, piercing memoir of two families linked through betrayal - and of the fierce childhood will to survive in them. A gorgeous, piercing memoir of two families linked through adult betrayal - and of the fierce childhood will to survive in them. When Jane Alison was a child, her family met another that seemed like its mirror: a father in the Foreign Service, a beautiful mother, and two little girls, the younger two - one of them Jane - sharing a birthday. With so much in common, the two families became almost instantly inseparable. Within months, affairs had ignited between the adults, and before long the pairs had exchanged partners - divorced, remarried, and moved on. As if in a cataclysm of nature, two families were ripped asunder, and two new ones were formed. Two pairs of girls were left in shock, a 'silent, numb shock, like a crack inside stone, not enough to split it but inside, quietly fissuring'. And Jane and her stepsister were thrown into a state of wordless combat for the love of their fathers. The sisters' contest, recounted by Jane Alison with stunning emotional insight, is waged throughout less-than-innocent childhoods - and ends in a tragedy that is at the same time unthinkable and inevitable. 'From its calm, startling first sentence, this book is a clear-eyed account of a tumultuous childhood that happened, literally and figuratively, all over the place. Jane Alison writes about displacement, identity, belonging, fear, and, perhaps most incredibly, rivalry. She may have felt insecure as a child, but she's incredibly secure as a writer; and it's this strange mixture - precise and graceful descriptions of profoundly unsettling events - that underlies the alchemy of this book.' - Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index . 'Mordant honesty rendered in luminous, lyrical terms.' - Booklist . 'An incomparable personal story exquisitely, stunningly told.' - Kirkus Reviews .

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The Sisters Antipodes
Average rating
4 / 5
Aside from a few overdone passages and an overused insect metaphor, it’s really good
November 1st, 2014
Here’s the fascinating tale of two families, each with two daughters. The parents divorce and marry each other, leaving the girls with their moms and brand-new step-dads. And, if that’s not crazy enough, the dads are diplomats so they don’t see their own daughters for years on end. Jealousy, identity, and self-esteem issues ensue. Alison pays homage to memory, and its inconsistency and unpredictability to tell her odd, and extremely captivating story. She impressively hurdles chronology, just as the mind does.
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