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About My Sisters: A Book Review

Debra Ginsberg's memoir, About My Sisters, is an honest, no holds barred look at families, particulary the relationship between sisters.
Not having any sisters of my own, I was intrigued by the title of a book that my mother gave me, About My Sisters. My mother often speaks of a favorite sister who passed away at a fairly young age. Her tone when speaking of her sister is always wistful, full of sadness at a sister lost, but is also full of treasured memories, secrets kept, and dreams shared. Until I read About My Sisters, I never fully realized the depth of my mother's loss, how her heart must break every time she stands over her sister's grave, how a very real part of her died along with her sister.

On the surface, Debra Ginsberg's custom writing, About My Sisters, is a memoir about her family, a family with all the usual ups and downs. Just under the surface however, is a very realistic look at relationships, at sisterhood, and at the fragile dance of family dynamics. The way the author allows the reader to view every aspect of her family's life feels a bit like reading some one's diary. Nothing is held back; the good, the ugly, the volatility of living in a large, close-knit family are all shared with openness and a great deal of humor. Many readers will likely find a bit of themselves in this honest, loving look at families and sisterhood.

About My Sisters
Debra Ginsberg was born into a family that was anything but conventional. Her parents, "perpetual renters", were a pair of 1960's hipsters. Describing her parents, Debra Ginsberg writes, "My mother was the essence of mod. My father was as hip as my mother was mod. They had the two of us (Debra and my sister Maya) at their youngest, hippest, and most experimental." They did not consider themselves hippies however, and "rejected mass movements of any kind, and harbored an intense dislike for anything communal." Debra's parents moved quite often, and because it was hard for the girls to make lasting friendships, Debra and her sisters found valuable companionship with each other.

Little by little, more children, Lavender, Bo, and Deja, were added to the family milieu, and Debra found that each new sister or brother (Bo) brought a new dimension to her life. Even though her relationship with each sibling was different, the bonds of love and understanding that formed were the same.

Debra Ginsberg uses different family events during the course of one year as a backdrop for the larger picture of family dynamics. She seamlessly travels from the present to the past and back again, as she describes the development of her relationship with each sibling with honesty, love, and humor.

I must admit, that at first, I found some of the family drama a bit disconcerting. Some of the arguments, temper tantrums, and insult flinging came as quite a shock. As the book went on, after getting to know the sisters better, I felt more comfortable, more like one of the family. By the end of the book, family arguments and misunderstandings became a small part of the larger whole. Debra Ginsberg teaches the reader that love, deep sisterly love, is larger than petty disagreements. Sisterly love can't be defined or diminished, because sisters are really just extensions of one another. As Debra Ginsberg so eloquently puts it, "My sisters are lovely, but it's not about physical beauty. Together, we illuminate each other, whatever light we possess individually is made that much brighter. It is the brilliance and power of sisters."

Debra Ginsberg's memoir, About My Sisters, has something for every reader. Readers with sisters will perhaps find similarities to their own relationships. Sister-less readers may feel a twinge of sadness at what they are missing. One thing is for sure, readers will find this open, real, funny look at family life hard to put down.

About the Author
Debra Ginsberg is the author of two other books, Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress (2001), and Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World (2003). Also, you can contact Debra for a cheap paper writing service. Debra, her siblings, and their parents all continue to live within miles of each other.
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