Debra Ginsberg, Author . HarperColllins $23.95 (299p) ISBN 978-0-06-052202-5

Ginsberg is on her way to becoming a professional memoirist: she's penned books on raising a child, her life as a waitress, and now, on her eccentric, close-knit family, focusing on sisterhood. With eloquence, deep feeling and altruism, Ginsberg (Waiting ; Raising Blaze ) depicts the life of her family through a year of celebrations and crises. Each event unleashes a cascade of memories that circle back, by the end of each chapter, to expose a particular facet of the four sisters' complicated relations with one another and the rest of the family. Ginsberg writes of her youngest sister Déja's ability to cure her driving phobia; Lavendar's talent for getting Ginsberg's son to act responsibly; the exalted position of her brother in a family of girls; the family's competitiveness; and her lifelong intimacy with her sister Maya, with whom she lives: "I never even put 'sister' before her name when I talk about her. She is the part of me who is Maya." Ginsberg seems to be answering a math problem: with two parents, five grown children, one grandchild and a varying number of boyfriends, how many different combinations are possible? As parents, children and siblings group and regroup in the complex dance of family relationships, each individual's soul emerges. Quarrels often erupt during the family's frequent get-togethers, but never for a moment will readers doubt their loyalty to one another. Ginsberg's nonfiction is as entertaining as a novel, but its greatest achievement is showing how love is not an emotion but an action, living and growing. (Mar.)

Forecast: Anyone remotely interested in family life—not just sisterhood—will be interested in Ginsberg's story. Those who read Raising Blaze will want to pick it up, too, since it satisfyingly rounds out the picture of the author's family that was hinted at in Blaze. It also leaves the door open for a sequel. HarperCollins plans NPR interviews and a seven-city author tour.

Reviewed on: 12/01/2003
Release date: 03/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0104-9
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-06-052203-2
Show other formats
Discover what to read next