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.
“[T]his clear-eyed, candid work portrays the immense emotional toll that two daughters’ illnesses take on a family living in Atlanta.”
"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.”
JESSICA HANDLER teaches creative writing in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing about Grief and Loss. Her nonfiction has appeared in Brevity.com, More Magazine, the Chattahoochee Review, Tin House, and Ars Medica.
Cover design: Kaelin Chappell Broaddus
The University of Georgia Press
Athens, Georgia 30602
|Publisher:||University of Georgia Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think this memoir was very cathartic for the author. By the time she was 10 she had lost one sister to leukemia and her other was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. Jessica Handler tells of how her family basically slowly fell apart after the death of her younger sister, Susie, at the age of 8. Invisible Sisters tells her story, the "well sibling," as she called herself. It follows her path through childhood, her college years and into adulthood. I'm not sure why it didn't strike a cord with me. I think I felt that it was almost written from an observers point of view rather than an actual member of the family even though Ms. Handler did go into her feelings at different points. This book was provided to me free through Netgalley.com for review purposes.
A finely written memoir of love, hardship, family and evolution in the face of both sudden and long lasting illness. This is a story that comes alive with the truth of the author's pursuit of personal balance. Simple moments come alive with meaning as she takes you on her journey. An engaging and inspiring read for anyone who has a sister-or wishes they did.