The Literary Phoenix

Funny, the damage a silly little book can do. Especially in the hands of a silly little girl.

When I thought of this topic, it didn’t initially occur to me how difficult it was going to be to find books where the protagonist was a sibling.  There are a lot of sci-fi, fantasy, and YA out there that have an only-child or lost-and-orphaned-without-family sort of protagonist!  When I narrowed it down to my favorite three, I chose to ignore the books that are meg popular at the moment (as tempting as it was to feature the Weasley Twins or Katniss and Prim) and also to focus on interesting sibling relationships… though not necessarily friendly ones.  Without anymore ado… I give you my top three sibling relationships in literature!

1. Meg Murry and Charles Wallace  (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle).

You have to have a special sort of love for your little brother if you are willing to travel through time and space to rescue him.  Both outcasts in their own way, their relationship is special… something that you rarely see in fictionalized siblings… let alone real ones.  They do have a unique connection and it is Meg’s love for and faith in her little brother that seems to rescue him in the end.  Charles Wallace and Meg have other siblings… but it is the relationship between the two of them that is unique and noteworthy.

2.  The Baudelaire Orphans (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett).

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny make a perfect team.  Perhaps in a world where you have an evil man trying to steal your fortune and you have no other true family, the only thing you can hold on to is each other.  The relationship of the Baudelaires is a little different than that, though.  They each have unique individual qualities that make each essential to the working team.  Without any one of them, they would fall into Count Olaf’s clutches… but they don’t.  They are heirs and heiresses, they are friends, and they are family… and all in all, for anyone who has read the series, you know they are pretty unstoppable.  And Count Olaf tries.  Really hard.  I love the interactions between the siblings.  Snickett’s delightful narrative style makes even the most grim of situations seem perfectly humorous.

3.  The Stark Children (A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin)

The Starks of Winterfell stick together, because they are strongest in numbers.  At least, they do at first.  The relationship between these siblings is so complicated, you need to reassess every time you start a new section.  Not to mention, there are many of them (three boys and two girls, assuming you count Jon Snow… which I do).  Delightfully, each sibling is his or her own unique and wonderful character, filled with passion, personality, and their own flair.  Martin succeeds in making each character feel very real and very different.  They behave just as real siblings should – there is the mix of rivalry and comradery, of competition and of love.  Each one knows what is at stake (although some take longer at seeing the grand scheme than others) and they are stronger together than they are apart.  But, like real life, some things cannot happen ideally.  I think that Martin truly mastered the complexity of family, and that is something that is not often considered when you are pulled into his world.

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Family is never perfect – I know mine isn’t.  Sometimes we want to kill our siblings with more passion than we love them.  Writing that complicated, illogical relationship isn’t easy, and I think that the Murrys, the Baudelaires, and the Starks represent all aspects of a perfect sibling relationship.  From love to loyalty to hatred to jealous to teamwork to betrayal… they have it all.

What are some of the sibling relationships that stick out to you, and do you think they work?  Do they reflect any of your personal experiences?

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