The Sister Knot: Why We Fight, Why We're Jealous, and Why We'll Love Each Other No Matter What

Overview

“The best book on sisters, very important and beautifully written.”—Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice
This “substantial contribution to the literature on sibling relationships” (Library Journal) explores the intricacy, friction, and love in bonds between sisters. Relationships between women are often freighted with a rocky mix of emotions—devotion and disregard, affection and loathing, admiration and envy—leading to anguish and confusion on the playground, in the home, and in the boardroom. ...

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Overview

“The best book on sisters, very important and beautifully written.”—Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice
This “substantial contribution to the literature on sibling relationships” (Library Journal) explores the intricacy, friction, and love in bonds between sisters. Relationships between women are often freighted with a rocky mix of emotions—devotion and disregard, affection and loathing, admiration and envy—leading to anguish and confusion on the playground, in the home, and in the boardroom. Negotiating her layered feelings toward a sister shapes a woman’s psychology as forcefully as do her relationships with her parents. Drawing on compelling interviews and new research, Terri Apter considers the many aspects of the sister relationship from birth through adulthood. The need to fight to differentiate oneself from a sister, as well the protectiveness one feels for that same person, is explained by reference to extensive psychological and biological evidence.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sisterly love, Apter (The Myth of Maturity) shows, isn't always pure: to differentiate herself from her older sister Sam, teenager Gina manipulated Sam into gaining weight; Kate's three sisters put aside jealousies and power plays to rally around her after she was raped; and Dorri wrongly accused her lesbian sister, Annette, of having an affair with her husband because a teenage Annette used to steal Dorri's boyfriends. This generic study of the complex ties that bind sisters teaches us that a sister's death is one of the most difficult losses to overcome; women's friendships often mirror the sister bond in both pleasure and pain; elderly sisters provide each other with crucial psychological succor; adult women are passionately invested in their own versions of family stories; and female empathy, when viewed through the sister knot, is revealed as a complicated skill "used for control and denigration as often as for care and protection." Throughout, British psychologist Apter's stodgy prose is brightened by excerpts from interviews she conducted with 76 British and American sisters from 37 families; while her analyses are perceptive, she's also treading on familiar territory without the creativity displayed by a Deborah Tannen or Bruno Bettelheim. (Jan. 15) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to adult.

Girls will want to read this book whether they love their sisters, hate their sisters, wish they had a sister, or wish their sister would disappear. The author, a British research psychologist and mother of two daughters, talks about the complicated relationship of sisters and compares it with the relationship of girls with brothers and with oldest, middle and youngest sisters. Since good female friends often refer to their friendships as being like sisters, even readers who don’t have sisters will find something to relate to in this interesting analysis, especially in understanding why a woman’s success can often threaten other women, even those who love and support her until she succeeds. She also explains all children’s “sibling trauma” when a new baby comes into the home and how it is more difficult for a sister to adjust to another sister. Apter’s British writing style is sometimes a bit stuffy, but the many interviews of sisters in England and America reveal real stories that show the depth of emotion involved in the sister knot, as in the example of two sisters, one of whom had Down syndrome. While the “normal” girl was resentful of the other daughter, she would defend her sister from all others. The author says that is because sisters so closely identify with each other they feel the pain of the other sister, unless they are inflicting it. The book is followed by a chapter of frequently asked questions and extensive notes. Reviewer: Nola Theiss
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Library Journal
A Cambridge University tutor and prolific expert on parenting and women's relationships, Apter (The Myth of Maturity: What Teenagers Need from Parents To Become Adults) here makes a substantial contribution to the literature on sibling relationships and female friendships. Joining Juliet Mitchell's Siblings, Stephen P. Bank and Michael D. Kahn's The Sibling Bond, and Judy Dunn and Robert Plomin's Separate Lives: Why Siblings Are So Different, this insightful book sheds light on the dynamics of sisterhood by incorporating research from various perspectives, including feminist psychoanalysis, developmental psychology, and popular sociology. Apter skillfully uncovers the complicated feelings inherent in sisterhood. Empathy and identity, protection and resentment, competition and friendship constitute the core of sisterly connections. Most of all, Apter captures the unique lifelong bond shared by sisters. Highly recommended for all public and academic collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/06.] Lynne F. Maxwell, Villanova Univ. Sch. of Law Lib., PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393330625
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/7/2008
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Terri Apter is a writer, psychologist, and Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge University. Her books include The Sister Knot and What Do You Want from Me? She lives in Cambridge, England.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     XI
Introduction: Why Sisters?     3
The Power of Complicated Feelings     15
Younger Sisters and Other Variations: Why the Sibling Trauma Is Universal     26
The Sister Knot     40
Shared Minds: Empathy and Identity Between Sisters     63
"Just Like" and "Completely Different": How Sisters Find and Resist Family Roles     98
Protection and Resentment     137
Sisters and Friends: The Interweaving of Female Bonds     176
Group Dynamics Among Sisters     203
The Power of Sister Stories     219
Success and Insecurity: When One Sister Outshines the Other     237
Sistering: A Lifelong Tie     260
Frequently Asked Questions     272
Notes     279
Bibliography     290
Index     299
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