cover image THE PERFECT SISTER: What Draws Us Together, What Drives Us Apart

THE PERFECT SISTER: What Draws Us Together, What Drives Us Apart

Marcia Millman, . . Harcourt, $25 (275pp) ISBN 978-0-15-100895-7

In this gentle and engaging study, social psychologist Millman explores adult sisterhood's difficulties and joys. She proposes that the words "what drives us apart" in the book's subtitle refer to "failing to see the person who is actually there," relating to an "Imagined Sister... the sister we wish for." "What draws us together" pertains to acknowledging "our Real Sister," who "might be a wonderful person or a terrible one." Millman divides her book into three sections: sisters who nurture each other, sisters who have troubled relationships and sisters who have found a way to heal their difficult relationships late in life. She interviewed women from various locations and socio-economic classes, and, when possible, several sisters from one family, revealing how sisters who grew up together may have completely different perceptions of their family. Although Millman's premise is simple, her conclusions are nuanced and unique to each family. She intimately shares her musings, her style more like a friendly conversation than a sociological study. Women trying to resolve problems with their sisters will glean insights from this study, and, as sisterly relations turn out inevitably to be entwined with mothers, fathers, brothers, aunts and grandparents, the book will also interest women who are trying to understand and come to terms with their entire families, not just sisters. Emphasizing the unique value of sisterly love, Millman warmly encourages both her subjects and readers who may have family difficulties to "make amends." Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. (June)