With our annual family reunion approaching, I have been thinking about a particular trait that makes our family unique. You see, my family is blessed with a genetic predisposition to produce vast numbers of twins. If you don’t believe me, check out the September 1938 issue of National Geographic that recounts the story of my great-grandparents, Harry and Lydia Fifield. They managed to have an astounding six sets of twins in 13 years- a record at the time.
My sister Jessi and I continued this genetic tradition as the youngest set of twins in the family. This made us a novelty at family reunions as children, resulting in endless picture taking, cheek pinching, and talking about how similar we were. As our distant relatives correctly assumed, Jessi and I are two pages from the same book. We love the outdoors, we are unendingly competitive with one another (we have managed to turn Trivial Pursuit into a blood sport on more than one occasion), and we love to read.
One of our favorite books growing up was Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. Practically from page one, it was evident that Jessi is the headstrong Jo March, whereas I saw a lot of myself in her more traditional sister, Meg. I am the Hermione to her Harry, the Jem to her Scout, the Susan to her Lucy. Jessi is adventurous and likes to push the envelope, I like stability and rule breaking makes me very uncomfortable. We almost never identify with the same characters, yet we always love the same books. Perhaps that is why we get along so well- every Sherlock needs a Watson.
Recalling some of these books reminded me that being part of a pair is special. We are stronger not just because of out similarities, but because of our differences. Our relationship might not feature realm saving heroics like it does for Frodo and Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but it certainly makes our journey through life just that much more fun.
While Little Women, Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Chronicles of Narnia are some our favorite books with prominent pairs, if you are looking to share a less traditional book featuring great duos with your sidekick/sibling/bestie/partner-in-crime, here are some that my sister and I have enjoyed reading and discussing:
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt follows the story of a teenager struggling with changing family dynamics after the loss of her beloved uncle. This coming of age tale also chronicles the relationship that this teenager shares with her sister and examines what it means to care deeply for someone.
Naked by David Sedaris is a hilarious collection of stories recounting the author’s life growing up within a large and quirky family. Part of the reason these stories are so funny is that it is easy to relate to the characters and their somewhat dysfunctional relationships.
Lastly, my sister would be angry at me if I did not mention The Time Quartet, including A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. While it is a science fiction series for younger readers, I found that rereading this series as an adult provided me with entirely different experience. Instead of focussing on the action, I took closer notice of the relationships between the Murray siblings.
For my sister and I, our lives have always been lived in terms of “we,” not “I.” These books (and many others) help to solidify our we-ness. Even though our careers often keep us many miles apart, we are still creating shared experiences through our reading.