“With a sure grasp of revelatory detail, the author recalls homely verities from a vanished life. Her memory piece is an elegy for her dead sisters, who are not quite lost as long as they live in her thoughts. A heartfelt, painful family saga, skillfully told by a survivor.”
“Some memoirs are affecting because they are universal, some because they are unique. Jessica Handler's Invisible Sisters derives its gut-punch power from being both. . . Handler tells this story with the lyrical elegance and cool remove of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking—the highest praise possible for any memoir of loss.”
When Jessica Handler was eight years old, her younger sister Susie was diagnosed with leukemia. To any family, the diagnosis would have been upending, but to the Handlers, whose youngest daughter, Sarah, had been born with a rare, fatal blood disorder, it was an unimaginable verdict. Struck by the unlikelihood of siblings sick with diametrically opposed illnesses, the medical community labeled the Handlers’ situation a bizarre coincidence. To their mother, the girls’ unlikely diagnoses constituted a reverse miracle—the sort no one wishes for. By the time she was nine years old, Jessica had begun to introduce herself as the “well sibling.”
Deeply moving and exquisitely written, Invisible Sisters is an extraordinary story of coming of age as the odd one out—as the daughter of progressive Jewish parents who moved to the South to participate in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as the healthy sister among sick, and eventually, as the only sister left standing. In a book that is as hard to forget as it is to put down, Handler captures the devastating effects of illness and death on a family and the triumphant account of one woman’s enduring journey to step out of the shadow of loss to find herself anew.
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