Covers: Beezus and Ramona, The Sisters Chase, The Story Sisters, Hamnet, This Tender Land, The Lost Man, Affliction

6 Degrees of Separation: Hurray for Siblings!

It’s time for another adventure in Kate’s 6 Degrees of Separation Meme from her blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best. We are given a book to start with, and from there we free associate six books.

This month we begin with Beezus and Ramona in memory of its author, Beverly Cleary. This 1955 novel introduces one of Cleary’s beloved characters, Ramona Quimby, through the eyes of her five-years-older sister, Beezus.

I always find writing about children’s literature difficult, probably because I’m so far removed it. Although I did enjoy reading this beloved children’s book for this month’s exercise, I’m going to have to stick to adult books for my excursion here. 

1. The obvious place to start is with the sister connection. In The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy, 18-year-old Mary Chase and her much younger sister, Hannah, hit the road for a cross-country journey after their mother dies and leaves them penniless. Suspense builds as the two chase a better life. I like the pun in the title. 

2. Another book about sisters with a pun in the title is The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman. The book narrates the stories of three sisters in the Story family. At the center of these stories lies the never-talked-about day when the oldest sister, at age 11, grabbed her 8-year-old sister out of a kidnapper’s car and jumped into the car to take her place. 

3. There are lots of books about sisters, but I think I’ve written about several of them in an earlier 6 Degrees post. So I’m going to switch things up now with a story of a brother and a sister: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Hamnet and Judith are twins, the children of Agnes and her mostly absent, never-named husband who’s away in the city writing the plays that will eventually cement his place in literary history. When Judith comes down with the deadly plague in 1596, her brother cannot bear to be separated from her. He sleeps next to her to comfort her, then sickens and dies.

4. And now we turn to brothers. This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger features two brothers, 16-year-old Albert and 12-year-old Odie O’Banion, who, along with two friends, take off in a canoe after a frightful occurrence at the Lincoln Indian Training School in Minnesota. The year is 1932, and the country is still in the throes of the Great Depression. As the four companions travel down the river looking for a better life, Albert focuses all his attention on protecting his kid brother.

5. Not all brothers are as close as Albert and Odie O’Banion. In The Lost Man by Jane Harper, Nathan Bright is the oldest of three brothers. When the middle brother’s suspicious death brings Nathan back to his family’s vast cattle station in the Australian outback, he is forced to remember and re-examine the relationships between the three boys and their father in this “deeply atmospheric” novel.

6. Over the past 14 months my husband and I have nearly exhausted the movie libraries of a couple of streaming services. One of the movies we watched recently was Affliction (1997), starring Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, Willem Dafoe, and James Coburn. The story line involves two brothers who have had very different lives after growing up with an abusive father. Intrigued by the story, I discovered that the film is based on the novel Affliction by Russell Banks. I haven’t read this novel yet but have tracked down a copy from a used book store and am awaiting its arrival.

This month’s list has taken lots of siblings on lots of journeys. Where did your 6 Degrees journey take you?

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

5 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: Hurray for Siblings!”

  1. It seems that many people went this route – siblings and sisters and the like. I don’t know Cleary so I went with it being short (because it is a children’s book)!

  2. I know that Alice Hoffman wrote Practical Magic but summary for The Story Sisters has me intrigued! Now I really want to know what happened!

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      The Story Sisters is poignant and definitely worthwhile. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    1. Mary Daniels Brown

      Yes, it’s certainly not a movie that one “enjoys,” but it did say a lot, and very powerfully. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

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