Today, stories about families from all walks of life — and of numerous compositions — are more accessible than ever before. One of the most significant familial bonds, for many of us, is the bond between siblings — or friends we consider close in that same way. Here, we’re exploring 11 books that celebrate these connections, from time-honored classics to contemporary must-reads.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A staple for many, A Wrinkle in Time is worth a reread — or a first read, if you missed it in school. Haven’t read it? It centers on siblings Meg and Charles Wallace, who go searching for their father across time and space. The first novel launched a five-book series and an Oprah-produced film directed by Ava DuVernay.
But, even more than its media successes, A Wrinkle in Time resonates because of the siblings’ bond — and because it doesn’t shy away from the very real, and often complicated, dynamics at play in a family.
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Processing your childhood in your late-20s or early-30s is hard enough. But what if you and your sibling were simply known as “Child A and Child B”? That is the case for the daughter and son of the influential performance artists featured in The Family Fang.
So, Annie and Buster Fang — A and B, get it? — have to deal with all of that and their missing parents. Now that’s a lot to work through.
She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Part of the Radiant Emperor series, She Who Became the Sun is a genderqueer take on the founding of the Ming Dynasty.
After Zhu’s brother passes away, our protagonist takes on his name and identity in order to create a safer life. A much different take on sibling relationships, the novel explores the fluidity of gender and Zhu’s relationship to it.
The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector
For fans of an introspective stream-of-consciousness read, look no further than Clarice Lispector’s The Chandelier.
Translated from Portuguese, the novel largely takes place in the character of Virginia’s head as she sorts out her past. Her brother is a focal point of her own story; the two shared a collection of spiders, among other things, while growing up.
The Secret History by Donna Tarrt
Sibling bonds with a dash of found-family are the backbone of this New England-set novel. Richard, a classics major, finds himself intertwined with five other students, including siblings Charles and Camilla.
The novel underscores how difficult it is to make your way through school, especially when you’re also navigating such an eclectic group of friends. Chilling at times, The Secret History is, nonetheless, a great ride.
Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward
Twins Joshua and Christophe, who were raised by their blind grandmother, just graduated high school. Despite their resemblance, the brothers have different facial features. As a result, the world treats them differently.
Set in the fictional Bayou town of Bois Sauvage just before Hurricane Katrina hits, Where the Line Bleeds shows how siblings’ paths may diverge. Plus, Jesmyn Ward’s work, which includes Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing, is always top-notch.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Before Frozen, the book on which the Wicked Broadway musical is based was the go-to for fairy-tales-meet-sisterly-bonds. A prequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West.
Elphaba, who’s treated differently due to the green hue of her skin, finds friction not just with her sister but with her best friend — a chosen family sister of sorts.
My Awesome Brother by Lise Frances
My Awesome Brother is a children’s book about trans acceptance. Perfect for kids age four and up, the story centers on a young child whose older sibling is beginning their transition journey. As for the younger sibling? They just want to bring a smile to their older sibling’s face.
The simplicity and beauty of this story underscore both the joy of being yourself and accepting your friends and family for who they are. Great for starting conversations around gender diversity, this book is a must-read for members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as trans and queer allies.
Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge
One of the most popular graphic novels and anime series in the world, Demon Slayer’s main characters are a brother and a sister. Tanjiro Kamado carries his sister Nezuko around in a box on his back — an homage to the Lone Wolf and Cub films and manga of the 1970s.
Tanjiro’s ultimate goal is to turn his recently demonized sister back into a human. In the process, he ends up becoming the titular demon slayer.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
If someone asked you to name a book about siblings, it’s likely Louisa May Alcott’s enduring classic would spring to mind. As you may know, Little Women centers on the March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — and their journeys from childhood to adulthood.
Sometimes their relationships are incredibly fraught (we still haven’t forgiven Amy, honestly), but, in the end, their sisterly bond is the beating heart of the novel. Adapted several times for the screen — the most recent being Greta Gerwig’s 2019 version — Little Women is as classic as they come.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Recently adapted into a Hulu series that starred Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon, Little Fires Everywhere certainly shows a more trying side of sibling — and family — dynamics. Set in the 1990s, the book centers on Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, who move around a lot (we won’t spoil why) and end up in the wealthy town of Shaker Heights.
There, the mother and daughter find themselves intertwined with the Richardson family. The many siblings of the Richardson family all have very different interactions with the Warrens, and each other, leading to some rather incendiary tumult. While the novel and Hulu series differ in a few key ways, both are worth checking out — though the show may redeem the Richardson kids’ fraught inter-sibling dynamics a bit more.