I love my sisters. I have two of them who live much too far away, and recently, when I watched the new movie Little Women, I ugly cried through scene after scene missing them both like crazy.
So, in honor of these two amazing, fierce, strong women, here’s a list of books in which the relationship between sisters is a driving force in the story. They may not always be on the same page or the same side, but ultimately, each wants to protect her sister. Each sees amazing things in her sister and shares a bond that no one outside it understands.
Note: Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This post contains affiliate links which don’t cost you anything to use but generate a small amount of support for this blog.
Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning
What if the Little Mermaid from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale had a twin sister determined to undo the deal she’d made with the sea witch? That’s pretty much the starting point of SEA WITCH RISING, and I really enjoyed that twist on the familiar story.
Henning creates characters that are somehow both hero and villain. They make dangerous promises, take huge risks, but always out of a desperate love for others. It adds a lot of layering and drama to the story. I think SEA WITCH is my favorite of the duology, but I enjoyed both.
We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
I remember reading this book really fast and feeling like it was like being on a roller coaster as it pulls you up to the top of the highest point, and all the adrenaline and anticipation is building and building as you go higher and higher. It’s one of those books that takes you to the brink and then you unravel what will happen, and I loved it.
Watching Nell try to navigate through the change in her sister’s behavior is so heartbreaking and real. I loved that she wouldn’t give up on the relationship she had with her sister.
The Wickerlight by Mary Watson
I can’t imagine the heartbreak of losing a sister, especially losing one in your teens. For Zara, it’s clearly left a giant hole in her heart, and she will not rest until she learns what happened to her sister.
Originally, Laila’s death is ruled an overdose, but Zara uncovers too many weird and suspicious things to accept that story at face value. But as she looks deeper, she stumbles onto a closed group of powerful and dangerous people, and soon she’s caught in a game where she doesn’t know the rules.
It’s a twisty, tingly crazy ride through this story, but Zara’s goal never wavers. She needs to know what happened to her sister, no matter what. I like to think I would feel the same. That if something strange happened to one of my sisters, I wouldn’t be able to rest until I knew what happened.
You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Twin sisters, total opposites in lots of ways, but one thing binds them together: the shared agony of watching their mother’s battle with Huntington’s disease. When both sisters are tested, the results only strain their relationship further. One girl tests positive, the other negative.
I found the sisters’ divergent ways of dealing with stress and anxiety really believable, and kept rooting for the bond of their sister relationship to be an anchor they could each come back to, no matter what.
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
You knew I was going to include this one, right? 🙂 Lia Mara has a tricky relationship with her family, particularly her sister, who has been chosen to rule after their mother. Actually, their relationship reminded me a lot of GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson, which should be on this list as well.
Since the story has other viewpoints and other goals, you might think Lia Mara and her sister don’t factor in very heavily, but there are some critical moments when the dynamics between Lia Mara and her sister drive the story forward or become the hinge that changes its direction.
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Sisters and secret, always a volatile combination, and never moreso than when two sister goddesses are involved. In THE NEVER TILTING WORLD, Haidee and Odessa must deal with the fallout of choices made by their mothers, two sisters, who split the world in two and stopped it from spinning on its axis. (If you’re already bothered by the science of what that would mean, all I can say is willing suspension of disbelief.)
I liked that the sisters were kind of the origin of the story and that basically everything hinged on choices they made.
Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
The sisters in VANISHING GIRLS have a complex relationship. While Nick cares a lot about her sister, she also has some guilt and feelings of resentment toward her that she’s having a really hard time working through. There’s lots to unpack in terms of emotional and psychological elements.
While it wasn’t my favorite book, I enjoyed the dynamics between the sisters and watching Nick struggle to make sense of her feelings and Dara’s behavior. It’s definitely one of those books where you get to the end and have to think back through what’s happened before and factor in new information. I tend to love those types of stories, but I think the pieces never quite clicked into place for me with this one. I wonder if it would be different if I read it again knowing what to expect? Not sure.
Empress of Flames by Mimi Yu (which inspired this list)
In EMPRESS OF FLAMES, sisters Lu and Min, will face off, an army between them, each determined to rule the Empire of the First Flame. The sisters are really different from each other and want the throne for slightly different reasons. What’s going to be interesting will be the clash of their desire to rule versus their love for each other.
Note: I included this book in an earlier Top Ten list, which inspired me to create my sister books list.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Scarlett and Tella, Tella and Scarlett. Though this story is ultimately Scarlett’s tale, the thing that drives her forward is the search for her missing sister. Her whole life plan is to do whatever it takes to make sure Tella is safe and protected.
Of course, Tella herself often does everything possible to thwart those plans, but not because she doesn’t love Scarlett. More because she sees Scarlett as having a value beyond her role as caretaker and big sister, and she does what she does to challenge Scarlett to imagine a life for herself. To risk loving someone and being loved.
Which is, of course, just one of the things I love about this series.
Sadie by Courtney Summers
If you haven’t read SADIE, it’s about a girl whose sister has been murdered. The driving force for Sadie is to find her sister’s killer– something the police don’t seem to be actually able to do. She’s willing to give up anything and everything in order to bring the murderer to justice.
It’s gritty and dark, but one of the things I love about it is that the author purposely excludes scenes depicting Mattie’s murder. Here’s a quote from my Q&A with Courtney Summers in which she talks about what inspired her to write the book:
“One of the things that inspired Sadie was the way we consume violence against women and girls as a form of entertainment. When we do that, we reduce its victims to objects, which suggests a level of disposability–that a girl’s pain is only valuable to us if we’re being entertained by it. What is our responsibility to us? I really wanted to explore that and the way we dismiss missing girls and what the cost of that ultimately is.”
Do you have a favorite sister book?
What books have you read that feature an unforgettable sisterhood? Share them in the comments! I would love to read more books about sisters.