A warm, empathetic guide to understanding, coping with, and healing from the unique pain of sibling estrangement
"Whenever I tell people that I am working on a book about sibling estrangement, they sit up a little straighter and lean in, as if I've tapped into a dark secret."
Fern Schumer Chapman understands the pain of sibling estrangement firsthand. For the better part of forty years, she had nearly no relationship with her only brother, despite many attempts at reconnection. Her grief and shame were devastating and isolating. But when she tried to turn to others for help, she found that a profound stigma still surrounded estrangement, and that very little statistical and psychological research existed to help her better understand the rift that had broken up her family. So she decided to conduct her own research, interviewing psychologists and estranged siblings as well as recording the extraordinary story of her own rift with her brother--and subsequent reconciliation.
Brothers, Sisters, Strangers is the result--a thoughtfully researched memoir that illuminates both the author's own story and the greater phenomenon of estrangement. Chapman helps readers work through the challenges of rebuilding a sibling relationship that seems damaged beyond repair, as well as understand when estrangement is the best option. It is at once a detailed framework for understanding sibling estrangement, a beacon of solidarity and comfort for the estranged, and a moving memoir about family trauma, addiction, grief, and recovery.
About the Author
Fern Schumer Chapman is the author of several award-winning books, including Motherland, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Her work has appeared in many publications including the Chicago Tribune, Forbes, The Washington Post, Fortune, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she has taught magazine writing and other seminars at both Northwestern and Lake Forest College.
“Deeply moving . . . The author's vulnerability turns what could have been a clinical look at family dysfunction into a sensitive, compassionate narrative. Even cynics will find hope in this story of redemption.” —Publishers Weekly
“A primer in mending familial fences blended with an affecting memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A terrific, compassionate, much-needed book about broken family relationships and the path to healing.” —Dr. Wendy Mogel,New York Times bestselling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
“Fern Schumer Chapman is a superb writer. In this stunning family memoir, she fearlessly probes the forty-year estrangement from her brother and chronicles their uneasy road to reconciliation. Along the way, she deftly weaves in pertinent social science research, capturing the voices and insights of hundreds of people suffering from sibling alienation.Brothers, Sisters, Strangers deserves to be read and discussed for years to come.” —James B. Lieber, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Friendly Takeover
“No better book presents the subject of sibling estrangement in such a far-reaching, personal, and practical way. A must-read!” —Ali-John Chaudhary, psychotherapist