40+ Fabulous Books about Siblings You Have to Read — Stories of Love, Unbreakable Bonds, Separation, and Reunion for Every Taste and Mood

From unbreakable bonds that make the best of times all the better, and lift us through the worst, to rivalries that niggle no matter now old we are, there’s no question that sibling relationships are among our most significant. As a result, tonnes of writers have explored those relationships in all their complexity — from life-affirming stories of connections that last a lifetime, to tales of estranged siblings who reconnect, to seriously dark thrillers.

It’s a relationship that’s fascinated writers for centuries. Think Little Women, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and The Mill on the Floss, (who can forget the relationship between Tom and Maggie Tulliver?).

Moving now to some of our favourite recently published novels that explore siblings, fans of historical fiction might want to dive into The Leviathan, a bewitching 17th-century-set novel that sees brother and sister Esther and Thomas Treadwater embroiled in a sinister world of superstition and murder, or Cunning Women — part evocative family drama, part historic witch-finding thriller, it features unforgettable sisterly bonds. Meanwhile, Michael Crummey’s The Innocents explores the nature of innocence through two siblings cast adrift from humanity. It really is a haunting masterpiece.

For stirring stories of siblings divided and reunited, The Vanishing Half tells a moving, multi-generational tale of twin sisters separated by a lie, while Silver Sparrow is a compelling coming-of-age story of two sisters who are both united and separated by their bigamist father.

One of our favourites of this year, Black Cake sees a brother and sister work through their differences after their mother dies, and Black Sunday is a remarkable coming-of-age debut that lays bare the hardships, heartaches and hopes of four siblings from 1996-2015. 

Fancy something funny? Try Dial A for Aunties — the portrayal of protagonist’s aunties’ sisterly shenanigans is brilliant, and shot-through with gallows humour. For more dark wit, you might enjoy My Sister, the Serial Killer. Or, if all-out psychological thrillers are more your thing, Mirrorland tells the twisting, disturbing tale of twin sisters tormented by their imaginary childhood world of pirates, witches and clowns.

For an incredibly moving contemporary read, The Cookbook of Common Prayer sees a family endure the most terrible tragedy, but with such love between a young boy and his anorexic older sister. Then there’s Grown Ups, an of-the-moment Nordic novella about a pair of sisters whose rivalry has extended into middle age as they face questions around motherhood and infertility.

Plenty of exceptional YA crossover novels explore sibling relationships, too, among them the book that arguably started the YA genre — SE Hinton’s The Outsiders. We also recommend Sarah Crossan’s Moonrise for its incredible portrayal of death row injustice and undying brotherly love, while the author’s One is an unflinchingly thought-provoking, novel-in-verse masterpiece that tells the moving story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi.

Providing food for thought on National Siblings Day (10th April), read on to discover novels that explore sibling relationships in all their complex glory. And, if you want to do something nice for your sibling, why not give them the gift of a well-chosen book? Discover why books make the best gifts ever.

The Innocents

The Innocents

Author: Michael Crummey Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/08/2020

Beautiful, brutal and raw - I cannot praise Michael Crummey’s The Innocents highly enough. Set in an inhospitable isolated area of the Newfoundland coast in the nineteenth-century, it’s a remarkable Garden of Eden, Babes in the Wood masterwork in which we witness age-old nature-nurture conflicts ebb and flow as we observe two siblings living on the edge, in every sense. Through their poignant passages to adulthood we see humanity at its most elemental, and we’re compelled to consider what it means to become a human adult Siblings Evered and Ada have survived the loss of their mother and baby sister Martha, though Ada still hears and speaks to Martha. Now their father has died and there’s no one but them to remove his body from their home. No one but each other to ensure they survive. Equipped with very limited knowledge of the world, and facing perilous poverty, the siblings fish and cure their catch, as their father used to, but the catches come either in unmanageable excess, or not at all. They are never far from the ravages of starvation, or wild storms. As time passes, Ada and Evered derive secret knowledge from their bodies, as well as from infrequent interactions with outsiders. Once a year, men come to collect the sibling’s paltry cured fish, dropping off scant supplies as payment. Then there are chance visits from seamen surprised to find them living alone in this precarious way. The siblings assimilate new knowledge from these unexpected visitors – knowledge of brewing, hunting, history and human relationships - who in turn leave indelible marks on Ada and Evered, leaving them changed to the extent that “each in their own way was beginning to doubt their pairing was requisite to what they might want from life.” Inspired by a story the author found in local archives, this is an incredibly haunting novel – the language powerfully pure, the story uniquely thought-provoking.

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Silver Sparrow

Silver Sparrow

Author: Tayari Jones Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/10/2020

Set in 1980s Atlanta, Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow is a rich tour de force that sparkles with wit, warmth and candid lyricism. Exploring the weight of secrets and the complexities of love and family life through the compelling coming of age stories of sisters estranged by their father’s bigamy, this novel lingers long in the soul. “The truth is a strange thing. Like pornography, you know when you see it.” This potent proclamation cuts to the novel’s core, for Dana and her mother Gwen are the other wife, the other daughter, of bigamist James, and they know this truth while his first wife and daughter remain oblivious. Upset when James tells her that being his second daughter “You are the one that’s a secret,” Gwen poignantly informs Dana that rather than being secret, she’s simply “unknown. That little girl there doesn’t know she has a sister. You know everything.” Knowledge that she possesses the truth offers Dana consolation, of sorts. While James’s other family is financially better off, both wives have a distinct lack of agency. Indeed, the novel is sharp on showing how women often have to make their lives from what men decide, such as when Gwen remarks that when you’re four weeks late, “All you can do is give him the news and let him decide if he is going to leave or if he is going to stay.” The novel is also powerful on elemental love and the nature of memory, such as Dana’s response to being gifted a fur coat her father won in a card game: “To this day and for the rest of my life I will always have a soft spot for a man with rum on his breath.” In time, during her own tempestuous teenage years, Dana orchestrates encounters with her sister and they become friends, with tension rising as the secret threatens to detonate. With finely drawn, flawed characters that pull readers’ loyalties in different directions, this commanding, compassionate novel confirms the author’s exceptional gifts. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Books of the Month
The Vanishing Half

The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Supple and immersive, Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half is an epic, elegant story of sisters and mothers, of identity, and divisive racist and colourist mentalities that tear communities, families and individuals asunder. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful book, peppered with lines that latch (“When he visited, Desiree felt like a girl again, the years falling away like meat off the bone”), and an exquisitely crafted plot that threads generations through time, and across America - the Deep South, California, New York, and back.  “In Mallard, nobody married dark. Nobody left either.” But that’s exactly what identical twins Desiree and Stella do at the age of sixteen - they flee their “strange town” to start a new life in New Orleans. But after a time, Stella realises she can pass for white. After taking a job as a typist, she abandons Desiree for another new life as a white woman, eventually marrying her wealthy white boss who has no clue she’s black, and with whom she has a daughter who looks entirely white, to her relief. Meanwhile, Desiree’s path couldn’t be more different. She’s also married, with a “blueblack child”, and now, ten years after leaving, desperation forces her back to Mallard - she and her daughter need to escape domestic abuse. Through Stella’s fiercely emotive storyline we witness the most despicable bigotry when a Black family moves into her white neighbourhood. She’s agonisingly conflicted and tangled, especially when facing an unravelling of her fabricated identity. “She was one of the lucky ones. A husband who adored her, a happy daughter, a beautiful home. How could she complain about any of it?” And yet she’s desperately unfulfilled. Emptiness eats away at her; she feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. As she says early on, she’s “split in two”. While following the sisters’ stories, Bennett brings in their daughters, and generations of secrets begin to bleed, creating a compelling, compassionate, consummately outstanding novel.

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Black Cake

Black Cake

Author: Charmaine Wilkerson Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Taking in generations of troubled lives, reinvented identities and family connections across the Caribbean diaspora, Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake is a stirring triumph with an unforgettable matriarch, and love, at its heart. When she dies in California, Eleanor Bennett's children are forced to face a succession of long-buried secrets about their mother’s life  - and to confront their own estrangement - when she leaves them her Caribbean black cake and a recording in which she tells the story of a young female swimmer who fled her Caribbean island in the aftermath of a murder. In her message, Eleanor instructs Byron and Benny to “share the black cake when the time is right”. The novel unravels the siblings’ journey towards this “right time” through a masterful switching between the swimmer’s story and their present-day struggles with personal hurt, and the revelations of their mother’s recording. Spanning sixty years, the novel’s scope is immense, with nuanced detail on island life, the racism encountered by Caribbean commonwealth citizens in 1960s England (and by Byron in the present-day), and women’s struggles (“Why do we women let shame get in the way of our well-being?”). Like the cake of its title, this is a richly flavoursome read. At once intense and subtle, it’s a story to savour and return to, when the time is right.

Star Books
Mirrorland

Mirrorland

Author: Carole Johnstone Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/01/2022

No. 36 Westeryk Road, an imposing flat-stone house on the outskirts of Edinburgh. A house of curving shadows and crumbling grandeur. But it's what lies under the house that is extraordinary - Mirrorland. A vivid make-believe world that twin sisters Cat and El created as children. A place of escape, but from what? Now in her thirties, Cat receives the shocking news that her sister has disappeared. Forced to return to Edinburgh, Cat finds herself irresistibly drawn back into Mirrorland. Because El has a plan. She's left behind a treasure hunt that will unearth long-buried secrets... A sharply crafted mystery about the power of imagination and the price of freedom, perfect for fans of Erin Kelly and Tana French. 

eBooks of the Month
Little Women

Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2021

Part of Wordsworth’s Exclusive Collection (a series of 15 classics for all ages), this new gift edition of Little Women features embossed gold foiling, coloured endpapers and attractive bespoke cover illustrations. If you’ve yet to read this classic, now’s your chance to enjoy a stunning edition at an attractive price. Once encountered, either on the page, or on-screen, the four New Englander March sisters are never forgotten, and between them they represent all kinds of young women, with vastly different personalities, outlooks and dreams. The eldest, Meg, aspires to be a fine-living lady, while fifteen-year-old tomboy Jo dreams of being a writer. Then there’s sensitive music-lover Beth, and Amy, the baby of the family who they all indulge. Though rich in period detail, the sisters’ story resonates still.

The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

Author: George Eliot, Kathryn Hughes Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/04/2019

Now a full-cast Radio 4 dramatization starring award-winning actress, Anna Maxwell Martin. With precise plotting underpinned by a wise understanding of human nature, George Eliot's most autobiographical novel gives a wonderful evocation of rural life and the complicated relationship between siblings. Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of The Mill on the Floss features an introduction by Professor Kathryn Hughes. Maggie Tulliver and her brother Tom enjoy a rural childhood on the banks of the river Floss. But the approach of adulthood creates tension: intelligent and fiery Maggie tests the boundaries of nineteenth-century society in her search for love, while Tom embraces convention and accepts his father's desire for him to become a businessman. Increasingly self-righteous, Tom disapproves of his sister's suitors and when he discovers that she took a fateful boat trip with Stephen Guest, her cousin's fiance, he turns his back on her. Maggie is ostracized by her beloved brother and her own community, and only through tragic events are the siblings reunited . . .

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen Format: Hardback Release Date: 15/09/2019

September 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. On My Bookshelf by Penny Smith... This wasn’t a set text for us at school, but I read it anyway and it got me into the classics big time. I had such vivid pictures of all the characters and places. Sadly, every adaptation, including the fantastic one with Colin Firth, was never a patch on my image of what they all looked like and were like. Plus I just love a love story… GMTV presenter Penny Smith is passionate about books and is now a novelist herself; her latest fiction, After The Break, is published by Harper Perennial.

eBooks of the Month
Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility

Author: Jane Austen Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/09/2020

Even if you have seen the numerous films and TV adaptations there is nothing quite as good as reading the original book about the Dashwood sisters and the complications and misunderstandings that take place in their love lives. A true classic, a clever, wonderful, romantic read.     April 2010 Guest Editor Katharine McMahon on Jane Austen... I can't not choose her.  And whichever I've read last is always my favourite.  The nuance of emotion, the understanding of human nature revealed by Austen constantly delights me.  When I reread Sense and Sensibility recently, for the first time Elinor came across as quite prissy and destined to marry a rather spineless husband.  I wonder if that was intended?

eBooks of the Month
The Leviathan

The Leviathan

Author: Rosie Andrews Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/02/2022

Set in the 17th-century during “a time of witches, a time of saints”, an era of “Gods and monsters, myths and legend”, Rosie Andrews’ The Leviathan smoulders with atmosphere and the tension of its turbulent political context. It’s unique enchantments will surely delight fans of The Essex Serpent, The Binding and The Familiars. It’s 1643 and England is in the throes of civil war when Esther Treadwater calls her brother back to their family farm fearing their father has been drawn into the “corruptions” of their new servant. From the off, the writing dances and enthrals with absorbing imagery and detail to create an utterly immersive world. By the time Thomas reaches home, their father has suffered a stroke and the servant has been accused of witchcraft, whereupon readers are plunged into village life, the courtroom, rural inns, and the increasingly beleaguered family home. Indeed, the siblings’ conflicts and predicaments have you in their thrall as much as the richly-realised world - these are characters who feel thoroughly alive. Considering himself a forward-thinking man, Thomas has little time for superstition, but it’s not long before Esther is afflicted by unknown internal torments, and he uncoils an uncanny ancient event that might explain their present tribulations. What a divinely dark, accomplished debut this is.

Debut Books of the Month
Cunning Women

Cunning Women

Author: Elizabeth Lee Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/03/2022

Abundant in atmosphere, well-rounded characters, and dreadful dilemmas, Cunning Women is a smoothly readable, 1620-set treat for fans of The Essex Serpent, The Leviathan, The Binding and The Familiars.  Though ten years have passed since the infamous Pendle Witch Trials that saw ten women hanged as witches, an atmosphere of paranoia still permeates the region. This is especially so in the Lancashire fishing village where the “cunning women" of the desperately poor Haworth family live as outcasts, offering herbal remedies that are in high demand, but considered the lowest of the low, for the women’s salves and balms are believed to be the work of witches. Sarah Haworth lives a tormented existence. While part of her aches for a normal life, especially when it comes to her younger sister, “the girl with the stormy eyes and sharp tongue” also longs to know the extent of her powers. Amidst this vividly evoked internal maelstrom, Sarah meets Daniel, a farmer’s son who finds himself captivated by her, as she is by him. They see each other for who they really are, not tainted by the prejudice of others. But when a magistrate arrives to investigate a furry of odd deaths, Sarah is in the firing line, and their love is threatened, along with her very life. Part evocative family drama, part historic thriller, Cunning Women tells an emotionally engaging tale of prejudice, superstition, revenge and love. 

Grown Ups

Grown Ups

Author: Marie Aubert Format: Ebook Release Date: 03/06/2021

Short and brilliantly bittersweet, Marie Aubert’s Grown Ups packs plenty of existential trials into its 160 pages. Honest, entertaining, and poignant with it, Grown Ups shows how many of us never quite grow up through its nuanced, droll portrayal of family dynamics. Single architect Ida isn’t terribly keen on children - “other people’s children, always, everywhere” - but, at forty, as her family gather at their country cabin to celebrate her mother’s 65th birthday, she’s considering freezing her eggs for the future. Sibling tension and rivalry is succinctly and potently evoked from the outset, delivered through Ida’s engaging first-person narrative that often drifts into introspective monologues. Her younger sister Marthe is insecure, desperate to conceive, and envious of Ida. At the same time, Ida competes with Marthe (“She can’t overtake me”), sick of Tinder, and desperate for physical closeness, “to have someone come up behind me, hold me, their breath at my neck.” The cracks that come in the wake of Marthe’s big announcement widen further during their mother’s birthday meal, leaving both sisters forever changed.

eBooks of the Month
Dial A For Aunties

Dial A For Aunties

Author: Jesse Sutanto Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

Packed with pace, crazy farce and outlandish one-liners, Jesse Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties is a laugh-every-few-lines black comedy, driven by undying family support, and a simmering “will-they-won’t-they?” love story. Photography student Meddy has been set-up on a date by her well-meaning, larger-than-life mum and Chinese Indonesian aunties. Despite still holding a torch for her college sweetheart, she agrees, but pretty soon things go wrong. Very wrong. When her arrogant date makes a move and won’t take no for an answer, Meddy winds up murdering him in self-defence. It’s an accident, but murder is murder. Naturally Meddy turns to her family for help, and naturally they step in to help her hide the body. But with their family wedding business due to work on the wedding of the year, and the body proving problematic to deal with, a fabulous female-fronted farce ensues, replete with mad twists, a hilariously hapless sheriff, and a sweet love story to boot.    

My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer

Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2019

“Big sisters look after little sisters,” declares the mother of the two sisters at the centre of this fiercely enthralling novel and that’s taken to the extreme when big sister Korede helps little sister Ayoola dispose the body of the boyfriend she’s murdered. And not for the first time either. Femi is the third boyfriend to be killed by beautiful, untouchable Ayoola, and Korede can’t not come to her aid. “I am the older sister – I am responsible for Ayoola. That’s how it has always been. Ayoola would break a glass, and I would receive the blame for giving her the drink”. The writing is razor sharp, courtesy of Korede’s wry narration. She’s a mistress of observation and insight, all-seeing, all-knowing and - so it seems – all-loyal to her self-serving little sister. Ablaze with dark humour and strident originality, this wickedly explosive debut heralds the arrival of a smart new voice in contemporary fiction. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Debut Books of the Month
Black Sunday

Black Sunday

Author: Tola Rotimi Abraham Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/08/2020

Set in Lagos, Nigeria, Tola Rotimi Abraham’s Black Sunday is a rich and accomplished coming-of-age debut that lays bare the hardships, heartaches and hopes of four siblings from 1996-2015. Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyke (“we were never stupid girls. We were bright with borrowed wisdom”) live a pretty contented life until their mother loses her job at the Ministry of Petroleum. With her sacking underpinned by broader political dealings, there’s nothing she can do to keep the family afloat but take-up a teaching post, which she hates. Later, when she leaves the family and the twins’ father loses their family home, they and their brothers are cared for by their Yoruba grandmother. With the narratives split between the four siblings, each of them must deal with abandonment and abuse as Lagos changes, and their lives take separate paths. The siblings’ intimate, affecting stories are wrapped-up in wider issues, such as church corruption and male exploitation of women. As Bibike notes, “Beauty was a gift, but what was I to do with it? It was fortunate to be beautiful and desired… But what is a girl’s beauty, but a man’s promise of reward? If beauty was a gift, it was not a gift to me, I could not eat my own beauty, I could not improve my life by beauty alone.” Meanwhile, Ariyke turns to religion. Universal emotions are also deftly handled, such as when their brother Peter comments “I think families who spend a lot of time arguing about the small stuff do it because they do not have the courage to talk about big things.” Fortunately for readers, Black Sunday is a brilliant book that has the courage to talk about the big things with honesty, humanity and beauty. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Debut Books of the Month
The Outsiders

The Outsiders

Author: S. E. Hinton Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/08/2016

In a Nutshell: Teen rebellion * Class conflict * Gangs gone wrong   A heartrending coming-of-age classic that blazed the trail for young-adult-oriented fiction long before YA was even a twinkle in publishers’ eyes. With his parents dead, Ponyboy Curtis is looked after by his big brothers; Sodapop, who “understands everything, almost”, and Darry, who treats Ponyboy “as if I was six instead of fourteen”. The way Ponyboy sees it, there are two sorts of people. There are greasers who “steal things and drive souped-up old cars and hold up gas stations and have a gang fight once in a while”. And then there are Socs, who live on the rich side of the tracks, “jump greasers…and get editorials in the paper for being a public disgrace one day and an asset to society the next”. Ponyboy knows which side he’s been born into and is desperate to prove himself to his older greaser peers, so much so that he and his friend Johnny get embroiled in a “rumble” that sets a succession of tragic events in motion.Published when the author was only eighteen, and now newly re-published as part of a series that showcases pioneering books for young adults, this is a truly seminal work that transcends the era in which it was written. The themes of class conflict and gang bravado are pertinent, and Ponyboy poignantly encapsulates that bolt-from-the-blue moment when the world is seen through adult eyes for the very first time. While their struggles and losses are deeply harrowing, the novel ends with a spark of hope that Ponyboy and his brothers will make it through, and make a future for themselves. ~ Joanne Owen It is one of The Originals from Penguin - iconic, outspoken, first.  The Originals are the pioneers of fiction for young adults. From political awakening, war and unrequited love to addiction, teenage pregnancy and nuclear holocaust, The Originals confront big issues and articulate difficult truths. The collection includes: The Outsiders - S.E. Hinton, I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith, Postcards from No Man's Land - Aidan Chambers, After the First Death - Robert Cormier, Dear Nobody - Berlie Doherty, The Endless Steppe - Esther Hautzig, Buddy - Nigel Hinton, Across the Barricades - Joan Lingard, The Twelfth Day of July - Joan Lingard, No Turning Back - Beverley Naidoo, Z for Zachariah - Richard C. O'Brien, The Wave - Morton Rhue, The Red Pony - John Steinbeck, The Pearl - John Steinbeck, Stone Cold - Robert Swindells.

eBooks of the Month
Moonrise

Moonrise

Author: Sarah Crossan Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/07/2018

A book to break your heart, quicken your blood and stir your soul by one of the most outstandingly distinctive writers to have emerged in a long, long time.   New Yorker Joe Moon was only seven when he took the call in which his big brother Ed told him he'd been arrested because “they think I done something real bad”. That “something” led to Ed winding up on death row, convicted of murdering a cop, though he insists he’s innocent. Ten years later, now Ed’s execution date has been set, Joe travels to Texas to say goodbye. The sublimely-formed structure slips between present and past, recounting the brothers’ troubled upbringing - how their Mom took off; how Aunt Karen took control and decided that Bible study and never mentioning Ed again was the only route to their salvation. While she insists that there’s no point wasting life or money helping someone who wasn’t sorry, Joe sees things differently. “He's my brother,” and that’s really all that matters. He has to see him. Lawyer Al, who’s taken on Ed’s case for free, offers some hope, but time is running out. “It's better to be guilty and rich, I reckon,” Joe remarks, as he experiences the excruciating injustices of a legal system in which the harshness of a sentence depends on where a crime takes place, who the victim was, and who you can afford to pay to represent you (crucially, Ed had no representation when he was first arrested). Once again, Crossan's free verse form is breathtakingly powerful - always the right word, in the right place, at the right time. Yes, this is harrowing and heartbreaking, but the kindness of the strangers Joe meets in Texas is achingly uplifting, as is the deep bond of love between Joe and Ed. This really is a magnificent feat of writing.

eBooks of the Month
One

One

Author: Sarah Crossan Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/08/2015

Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Children's Book Award 2016. September 2015 NewGen Book of the Month. Award-winning Sarah Crossan tells an astonishing and difficult story with the surest of touches in this tender, funny and life affirming book. Grace and Tippi are twins. Not just twins but conjoined twins, sharing the lower half of their bodies. Somehow they have always managed to be individuals while also part of each other. Now teenagers, Tippi and Grace are facing increasing difficulties. They are off to school for the first time meeting new experiences and especially new friendships and relationships. While Tippi longs for things to remain the same, Grace yearns for something more. Falling in love with classmate Jon she begins to imagine a future full of romance and love. But will there be a future for Grace and Tippi? When a desperate decision needs to be taken the girls lives must change forever. Sarah Crossan tells an original and utterly gripping story brilliantly. ~ Julia Eccleshare

eBooks of the Month
Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Author: Julie Israel Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2017

June 2017 Debut of the Month  | In a Nutshell: Love, loss, friendship and secrets A tear-jerking, soul-stirring, heart-warming debut about losing a sister, and the ensuing aftermath of grief and mystery. Sixty-five days have passed since Juniper’s effervescent big sister, Camilla, was killed in a car crash on their way home from a party. Since that devastating event, she’s been holding herself together by rating each day on cards in her Happiness Index. No wonder then, that losing one of the cards throws Juniper into further turmoil, especially when this particular card reveals a secret she’d rather no one knew. While frantically searching for the missing card - befriending bad-boy Brad as she does so - Juniper is also determined to discover the identity of her sister’s secret love. The mystery surrounding Juniper’s missing card untangles compellingly, as do the personal revelations (sometimes hard-coated bad boys have the softest of centres). While the novel doesn’t shirk from showing the shattering effects of loss, Juniper’s desire to help others, her zesty, sardonic outlook, and the friendships she forms, are hugely uplifting. The characters feel poignantly true-to-life, making this a richly rewarding must-read for fans of Jandy Nelson and aficionados of authentically-voiced contemporary YA. ~ Joanne Owen

And the Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed

Author: Khaled Hosseini Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/05/2014

Ten-year-old Abdullah would do anything for his younger sister. In a life of poverty and struggle, with no mother to care for them, Pari is the only person who brings Abdullah happiness. For her, he will trade his only pair of shoes to give her a feather for her treasured collection. When their father sets off with Pari across the desert to Kabul in search of work, Abdullah is determined not to be separated from her. Neither brother nor sister know what this fateful journey will bring them.

eBooks of the Month
Atonement

Atonement

Author: Ian McEwan Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/08/2011

An excellent film but the beauty of the book is in its writing for McEwan is indeed one of our country’s literary giants.  Get lost in his words, the hypocrisy of the upper-class world and then the shattering atrocities of war, right through to its very clever ending.

eBooks of the Month
The Beet Queen

The Beet Queen

Author: Louise Erdrich Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/06/1994

A beautifully repackaged reissue of the magical novel from Louise Erdrich, winner of America's prestigious National Book Award for Fiction in 2012. On a cold spring morning in 1932, two children, Karl and Mary Adare, leap from a boxcar. Orphaned in a most peculiar way, Karl and Mary have come to Argus, in the heart of rural North Dakota, to seek refuge with their aunt Fritzie. So begins an exhilarating tale, spanning some forty years and brimming with unforgettable characters: ordinary Mary, who causes a miracle; seductive, restless Karl, who lacks his sister's gift for survival; Celestine James, Mary's life-long friend; and Celestine's fearless, wild daughter Dot - the Beet Queen.

The Blind Assassin

The Blind Assassin

Author: Margaret Atwood Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2001

A 2011 World Book Night selection. Atwood's Booker prize-winning novel reissued with a striking new jacket along with other titles from Margaret Atwood's backlist. Lyrical, outrageous, formidable, compelling and funny, this is a novel filled with deep humour and dark drama. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selection for this title is:  Aldous Huxley. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

eBooks of the Month
East of Eden

East of Eden

Author: John Steinbeck Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/07/2017

California's fertile Salinas Valley is home to two families whose destinies are fruitfully, and fatally, intertwined. Over the generations, between the beginning of the twentieth century and the end of the First World War, the Trasks and the Hamiltons will helplessly replay the fall of Adam and Eve and the murderous rivalry of Cain and Abel. East of Eden was considered by Steinbeck to be his magnum opus, and its epic scope and memorable characters, exploring universal themes of love and identity, ensure it remains one of America's most enduring novels. This edition features a stunning new cover by renowned artist Bijou Karman.

Family Life

Family Life

Author: Akhil Sharma Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/04/2015

For eight-year-old Ajay Mishra and his older brother Birju, family life in Delhi in the late 1970s follows a comfortable, predictable routine: bathing on the roof, queuing for milk, playing day-long games of cricket in the street. Everything changes when their father finds a job in America - a land of carpets and elevators, swimsuits and hot water - and the Mishras, envy of their neighbourhood back home, become the latest unknowns in the vast expanse of New York. Life in America is extraordinary, and as snows and summers come and go the brothers adjust to their exciting new world of prosperity, girls and 24-hour TV. But then comes the hot, sultry day when everything falls apart: tragedy turns the Mishras' American dream into a living nightmare and young Ajay finds himself lost and virtually orphaned in a land that is not his own.

eBooks of the Month
The Cookbook of Common Prayer

The Cookbook of Common Prayer

Author: Francesca Haig Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/06/2021

What a devastatingly honest - and brilliant - book this is. Its portrayal of grief and the absurdity of death - the bizarre, unfathomable fact that someone just isn’t there anymore - are simply incredible. Earth-shatteringly raw and resonant, it’s a book that will break your heart and heal it. Set in Tasmania and London, Gill and Gabe are thousands of miles from their son, Dougie, when they’re told he’s drowned in a caving accident in England. They rush to London, deciding to keep Dougie’s death from their daughter Sylvie, who’s seriously ill with anorexia, and leaving their adorable youngest child, Teddy in the care of a close friend and his equally adorable grandfather Papabee, who has dementia. In England, chef and food writer Gill can’t face viewing her son’s body, can’t face the fact of Dougie’s death and so she returns to Tasmania, keeping up the pretence that he’s still alive by writing letters from him to Sylvie - it becomes an obsession. In England, Gabe obsesses over every excruciating detail of Dougie’s death, both of them distracting themselves from the truth. In contrast, Teddy is working to uncover the truth of Sylvie’s illness, believing she’ll get well if he can work out when it began - his love and steadfast determination to save his sister are incredibly touching, and I cannot praise the authentic, tender representation of his relationship with granddad Papabee enough. Inseparable, they have their own “TeddyandPapabee” collective noun. Teddy also perfectly expresses brutal truths about death and grief with piercing honesty: “When Dougie went into that little box, I thought the main bit of his dying was finished. I was wrong. Nobody tells you that being dead just keeps on going… he’s dead every day.” Similarly, in her haunting monologues, Sylvie reveals brutal truths about her anorexia. Peppered with Gill’s heart-breaking recipes (Mediterranean vegetable soup for the day you land in England to collect your son’s body; Roast beetroot salad for the week after your son’s post-mortem results are released), the story reels and swerves to a truly edge-of-your-seat, hold-your-breath conclusion. While the family’s pain and grief always tangible, the buds of healing are too. What a book.

Books of the Month
Franny and Zooey

Franny and Zooey

Author: J. D. Salinger Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2010

Franny Glass is a pretty, effervescent college student on a date with her intellectually confident boyfriend, Lane. They appear to be the perfect couple, but as they struggle to communicate with each other about the things they really care about, slowly their true feelings come to the surface. The second story in this book, Zooey , plunges us into the world of her ethereal, sophisticated family. When Franny's emotional and spiritual doubts reach new heights, her older brother Zooey, a misanthropic former child genius, offers her consolation and brotherly advice.

The Makioka Sisters (Vintage Classics Japanese Series)

The Makioka Sisters (Vintage Classics Japanese Series)

Author: Junichiro Tanizaki Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2019

An exquisite novel about four sisters living though a turbulent decade...I'd put it in the 10 greatest books of the 20th century' David Mitchell 'A near-perfect novel' Hanya Yanagihara In the years leading up to the Second World War, four sisters live in dilapidated houses in Osaka and Ashiya, and each navigate their own complex, personal relationship to the fading lustre of the Makioka family name. Rich with breathtaking descriptions of ancient customs and an ever-changing natural world, Junichiro Tanizaki evokes in loving detail a long-lost way of life even as it withers under the harsh glare of modernity. TRANSLATED BY EDWARD SEIDENSTICKER VINTAGE JAPANESE CLASSICS - five masterpieces of Japanese fiction in gorgeous new gift editions.

Purple Hibiscus

Purple Hibiscus

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/02/2005

This review is provided by bookgroup.info.Purple Hibiscus is the story of a fifteen-year-old Nigerian girl, Kambili, and describes her life under the constraints of her father's strict regime. When life in the city becomes dangerous during a military coup, she is sent away to stay with her aunt where she eventually finds love and happiness. Written from Kambili's point of view, it is a powerful story that is remarkable for the subtlety of the telling. Papa, a newspaper owner committed to reporting the truth about state corruption, revered by the community for his generosity, is in many ways a monstrous figure. At home he is authoritarian and bullying, narrow-minded and intolerant, yet he is motivated by profound religious beliefs. And, although his love for them is beyond doubt, his cruelty to his family in order to keep them on the path of righteousness is chilling. The delicacy of the relationship between father and daughter is especially painful: locked to Kambili's fear of her father is an unquestioning love and belief. She describes how she would "snuggle into Papa's arms when harmattan thunderstorms raged outside, flinging mangoes against the window netting and making the electric wire hit each other and spark bright orange flames. Papa would lodge me between his knees or wrap me in the cream blanket that smelled of safety." And even after she finally breaks away from the security of his violence and begins to become independent, she remains devoted to him. Like most Nigerian novels, Purple Hibiscus necessarily deals with the tension between Catholicism and traditional religion, but Ngozi Adichie also tackles the more recent problems associated with an African state emerging, as Kambili does, from the destructive legacy of a paternalist power. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has won the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize First Best Book award for Purple Hibiscus. Welcome to another wonderful Nigerian writer.The Lovereading view...A powerful and compelling coming of age novel of a family, a faith and a country, all in an awful turmoil. It has been highly rated by reviewers Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

eBooks of the Month
Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/03/2014

Nigeria in the 1960s and the birth of Biafra, a time of massacre, bloody conflict and the end of colonialism. We experience this strife through the household of a university lecturer, his houseboy, his lover and a white man seeking something we are never sure of. It is a tale of class more than race, of tribal differences and of the horrors of the period. It is immensely impressive, a big novel in every sense. Highly recommended.   The film version of Half of a Yellow Sun is released in UK cinemas on Friday 11 April 2014. Click below to view the trailer. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month
Two Brothers

Two Brothers

Author: Ben Elton Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/08/2013

Berlin 1920 Two babies are born. Two brothers. United and indivisible, sharing everything. Twins in all but blood. As Germany marches into its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice...Which one of them will survive?

eBooks of the Month
The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides

Author: Jeffrey Eugenides Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola and starring Kirsten Dunst, this is the story of the five Lisbon sisters – beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the entire neighbourhood. The boys that once loved them from afar are now grown men, determined to understand a tragedy that has always defied explanation. For still, the question remains – why did all five of the Lisbon girls take their own lives? This hypnotic and unforgettable novel treats adolescent love and death with haunting sensitivity and dark humour, and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Author: Marian Keyes Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/07/2017

Meet Claire Walsh. On the day she gives birth to her first child, Claire's husband James tells her he's been having an affair, and that now's the right time to leave her. Right for who exactly? Exhausted, tearful and a tiny bit furious, Claire doesn't know what to do. So she decides to go back to basics . . . and runs home to Mum and Dad. But it's not the sanctuary she'd been hoping for. Juggling her sisters' drama, her parents' pity and the demands of a baby, Claire desperately misses the way things were. So when James gets back in touch, eager to put things right, Claire faces a choice. Will she forgive and forget? Or can she find the courage to take a chance on herself, and start a life of her own?

Men Don't Cry

Men Don't Cry

Author: Faiza Guene Format: Paperback Release Date: 24/08/2021

Faïza Guène’s Men Don’t Cry is an absolute triumph - wise, funny, enthralling, thought-provoking. At its heart, the novel explores the age-old (and sharply pertinent) pull between one’s land of heritage and one’s land of birth, in this case generational and family conflict between Algeria and France. It’s an incredibly powerful commentary on a very real conflict in contemporary France, perfectly summarised when the novel’s protagonist comments that “to be fully French you have to deny part of your heritage, part of your identity, part of your history, part of your beliefs, and yet when you succeed in achieving all that, you’re still reminded of your origins…So what’s the point?” Men Don’t Cry is also a superb coming-of-age story that sees an awkward young man, Mourad, find his feet, and his voice. He was born in Nice to Algerian parents, the youngest of three children. His eldest sister Dounia, a devoted feminist, leaves home without looking back, while his middle sister marries, has kids, and is happy. Mourad is between the two - neither desperate to leave home, nor especially looking to settle down. He’s insular, doesn’t have many friends, so he’s there when his dad has a hugely debilitating stroke. He’s there when his hypochondriac mum needs to vent (which she does a lot, about anything and everything, to comic and poignant effect). But then the time comes for Mourad to leave home too - he has a teaching job in Paris. A few weeks into his new post, he reconnects with Dounia, now a public figure feminist activist who’s stepped onto the political ladder. Her interviews in high profile publications and the book she writes about her upbringing and experiences rile Mourad. For example, she describes their dad as “authoritarian, change-averse, illiterate.” But, nevertheless, it’s Mourad who bridges the chasm between Dounia and the rest of the family, not least at the unexpected, heartrending end of this remarkable novel. Mourad’s voice is engrossing, and feels unfailingly authentic. On that note, deep appreciation must go to the novel’s award-winning translator, Sarah Ardizzone - rendering Mourad’s voice so dazzingly into English, is a tremendous achievement. The result is a novel that reads like a dream - vibrant, nuanced, thought-provoking, funny, and shot-through with Mourad’s wit.

Star Books
James The Third

James The Third

Author: Maggie Ballinger Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/02/2022

Driven by the drama of compelling “what ifs?”, Maggie Ballinger’s James the Third poses an intriguing question: what if King George VI had had a son? Covering 1948 through to 1997, this dialogue-rich offering of speculative fiction is sure to scintillate readers interested in the British royal family, with memorable real-life events woven into the imagined alternate history (for one example, the now infamous Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana gets a mention). Of course, given the rules around succession, had Elizabeth and Margaret had a younger brother, Elizabeth would not have become Queen on the death of her father in 1952. Instead, as happens here, the sisters’ younger brother James ascends the throne at a young age. As he struggles to reconciles the demands and limitations of his role with personal desires, the author presents the parallel tale of  sisters Lil and Peggy, devout royalists who work in Woolworths on Deptford High Street. Being of similar age, they'd "always felt a close association with the King and Queen’s daughters”. With explanatory notes reconciling history with what might have happened had Elizabeth had a younger brother, this shines a light on the difference between being a female heir presumptive and an heir apparent. Overall, with the parallel stories playing out like a TV drama, this will surely grip and entertain readers looking to be swept up in an episodic saga.

Lemon

Lemon

Author: Kwon Yeo-sun Format: Hardback Release Date: 14/10/2021

Taking in the absurdities of life, misfortune and tragedy, Kwon Yeo-sun’s Lemon is an engaging, read-in-one-sitting novella of remarkable intensity. In some regards, it’s a crime novel, but one that turns the genre on its head to create an enigmatic emotional puzzle in which a woman warped by grief engages with the person she believes killed her sister. Back in 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became called the High School Beauty Murder. There were only ever two suspects, one of whom had an alibi, while no evidence was found to convict the second, so the case was never solved. Seventeen years later, Kim Hae-on’s younger sister, Da-on, remains utterly eaten up by the murder. Her life is on hold, her mind trapped in twisted stasis. Fixated on finding out what happened to her sister, she discovers unexpected truths that strike her to the core. Told from multiple perspectives and times, the story sparks with descriptive perfection, such as this evocation of the victim: “She was very pretty, but not in a typical way. How could I describe it? Her beauty was urgent, precarious, like the piercing wail of a speeding ambulance. I could not look away”.  It also swirls with powerful undercurrents of raw emotion - desperation, regret, longing, guilt, the brutal ripples of grief. Presented in all their ludicrous complexities, such raw states are overlaid with the mundanities of everyday life. Though short, this is an intensely gripping and profound reading experience. As Lemon ponders: “Couldn’t each moment we’re living now be the meaning of life?”

Debut Books of the Month
Homegoing

Homegoing

Author: Yaa Gyasi Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/10/2017

Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel - the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself. Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

eBooks of the Month
Stay Another Day

Stay Another Day

Author: Juno Dawson Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/11/2021

Pacey, racy and reeling with real-life struggles, comforts and joys, Juno Dawson’s Stay Another Day is a cracker of a Christmas novel, with a compelling home for the holidays set-up - if you watched the TV series Why Women Kill, you’ll also appreciate how the novel is framed through the 120-year history of the family home. Sparkling with the author’s trademark talent for writing authentic dialogue (funny, thought-provoking, always on the mark) and rounded characters, this seasonal story is as satisfyingly-formed (and moreish) as a chocolate orange. When the three McAllister siblings convene at the family home in Edinburgh for Christmas, secrets, lies and lusts come together to create an absolute banger of a novel. Star student Fern, a self-professed embodiment of Lisa from The Simpsons, arrives from London with her stunning boyfriend, Thom, while her twin Rowan (gay, an aspiring actor, and consumed by FOMO) brings his best friend Syd. Though Fern is, as always, determined to enjoy the perfect family Christmas, she notes that “Christmas with a mixed-race boyfriend and a non-binary and mixed-race best friend is a potential minefield. Where are you from? But where are you really from?” Then there’s the twin’s younger sister, Willow, still living at home and constantly scrutinised due to her anorexia. As the big day draws closer, past liaisons and unfolding secrets envelop the family like a tangle of Christmas tree lights, setting the scene for a series of snowy showdowns and a whole lot of soul-searching. Hearty, satisfying stuff, with seasonal cheer shining bright through the real-life strife.

Clap When You Land

Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/05/2020

From the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High comes Elizabeth Acevedo’s exceptional dual-voiced novel about loss, love and sisterhood across the sea, a story partly sparked by the fatal crash of a flight from NYC to Santo Domingo in 2001.   Camino Rios has always lived in the Dominican Republic with her aunt Tia, “a woman who speaks to the dead, who negotiates with spirits”, a woman who’s like a mother to her: “Even when Mama was alive, Tia was the other mother of my heart.” Life’s not easy for them on the island, but they have it better than their neighbours as a result of Camino’s beloved Papi working in the US for most of year. To Camino, Papi is a “A king who built an empire so I’d have a throne to inherit”, and she lives for the summer months when he comes home to them. But all life is thrown into terrible disarray when she goes to meet Papi at the airport and learns that his plane has fallen from the sky, and then: “I am swallowed by this shark-toothed truth.” This story is blessed with such divinely piercing language throughout. At the same time, across the Atlantic, Yahaira Rios learns that her hero Papi has died in a plane crash. She already knew he had a wife on the island (but not of his secret daughter), and has always longed to reconcile her Dominican heritage with her American life: “Can you be from a place you have never been? You can find the island stamped all over me, but what would the island find if I was there? Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?” When it emerges that Papi wishes to be buried back in DR, Yahaira’s Mami insists that she will never let her “touch foot on the sands of that tierra.” But Yahaira has other plans, not least when she’s contacted by a girl named Camino Rios who bears an undeniable resemblance to Papi, and to her too.   As well as being exceptionally affecting on grief, forgiveness and family secrets, Clap When You Land is also devastatingly sharp on the exploitative tendencies of tourism. In Camino’s words: “I am from a playground place…Our land, lush and green, is bought and sold to foreign powers so they can build luxury hotels...Even the women, girls like me, our mothers and tias, our bodies are branded jungle gyms…Who reaps? Who eats? Not us. Not me.” Overflowing with truths of the heart, and truths about inequalities that need to be broken, while also addressing the complexities of what it means to be of a place, I can’t praise this highly enough. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.

Audiobooks of the Month
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece

Author: Annabel Pitcher Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/09/2011

Winner of the 2012 Branford Boase Award for an outstanding debut novel.  The Branford Boase judges said: A very accomplished piece of writing by an author with a clear talent. The descriptions of the way the father handled his daughter’s death and a small child’s reaction to this are very well handled. Heartbreaking and funny in equal measure, 10-year-old Jamie's direct and wide-eyed account of the emotional chaos he and his family live through following the death of his sister in a terrorist attack is poignant and warm-hearted. Beginning a new life in the Lake District with his older sister and his father, who mourns his daughter through alcohol and a wild rage against her killers, Jamie knows he should feel sadder than he does. The truth is, he can hardly remember his sister; and what is happening with his new school and new friends, especially Sunya, is more urgent – as is his yearning for his absent mother. Emotionally charged, this is a wonderfully touching story which never slips into worthiness. Shortlisted for the 2012 Carnegie Medal. Shortlisted for the Galaxy Children's Book of the Year Award 2011.   In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion abovefor My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece we have a number of reviews from Lovereading members....scroll down this page to see what they think.

eBooks of the Month
Proud of Me

Proud of Me

Author: Sarah Hagger-Holt Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/02/2021

All I want is for my family to be proud of me... An accessible child-centred story about self-acceptance and the importance of opening up to those closest to you. Becky and Josh are almost-twins, with two mums and the same anonymous donor dad. Josh can't wait until he's eighteen, the legal age when he can finally contact his donor, and he'll do anything to find out more ­­­- even if it involves lying. Becky can't stop thinking about her new friend, Carli. Could her feelings for Carli be a sign of something more? Becky and Josh both want their parents to be proud of them...but right now, they're struggling to even accept themselves.

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