Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Invisible Sisters by Handler Jessica

Invisible Sisters

by Handler Jessica

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6427186,178 (3.21)2
Title:Invisible Sisters
Authors:Handler Jessica
Info:PublicAffairs (no date), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:@requested: early reviewers, @wishlist: to read

Work details

Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

English (26)  Dutch (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Having just read a host of memoirs about loss, grief, illness, strong mothers, tormented fathers who fall apart during hard times and excruciating circumstances Invisible Sisters stands out as being one of the best. Jessica Handler's memoir about the death of her two sisters, and the disintegration of her family, especially her father is searing and honest and matter-of-fact and I inhaled this book over the course of a day.

Like many families the Handlers did not talk about the death of their daughter, Susie who died at age 8 from Leukemia. Since the time that Susie was diagnosed her parents managed this life-altering fact in opposite ways and after her death her "parents began the slow and terrible turning away from one another that erodes families facing the death of a child." Very soon after her father mentally and psychically fell apart and the family that Jessica knew was gone. For Jessica, the "well" daughter, there was expectations to meet and hopes to fulfill, conflicts to mediate between parents and the need to protect; her other sister, her mother and mostly herself. Lost, without much support she left home early, bereft and alone with death as her companion.

I understand all of this. As someone who grew up with the specter of death shadowing my family there is no way out of it terrorizing you. So you can tentatively try to make friends with it, you can accept that you will be frighted and sickened and devastated by fear, be immobilized by it, live life as fully as possible, forget about it and do all of this at once. This is what I treasure about Jessica's smart and gracious book. She comes to know this and as she worked to save herself, with the support and love of her mother, husband and community of people around her, she hands herself back a life full of meaning and peace.

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to review this book for an honest opinion. ( )
  Karen59 | Sep 19, 2015 |
I think this memoir was very cathartic for the author. By the time she was 10 she had lost one sister to leukemia and her other was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder.

Jessica Handler tells of how her family basically slowly fell apart after the death of her younger sister, Susie, at the age of 8. Invisible Sisters tells her story, the "well sibling," as she called herself. It follows her path through childhood, her college years and into adulthood.

I'm not sure why it didn't strike a cord with me. I think I felt that it was almost written from an observers point of view rather than an actual member of the family even though Ms. Handler did go into her feelings at different points.

This book was provided to me free through Netgalley.com for review purposes. ( )
  Diane_K | Sep 8, 2015 |
What the loss of a woman's two sisters does to her family and to her own childhood. Wish I could put my finger on what is missing here, but something I wish this book had is more from or about the mother and the other sister who made it to adulthood before dying. ( )
  olevia | Apr 5, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've started this book several times - I haven't finished it yet, not because it isn't good - it is very good so far - but I have to be in a certain mindset - it is not depressing - but sobering. Easier for me to read it on a warm summer day, not on a grey, winter one.
  mlschmidt | Jan 22, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A very sweet memoir. The love Jessica Handler feels for her sisters is very evident and her guilt over being the "well" sister is compelling. ( )
  leaseylease | Jul 29, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

Portrays the immense emotional toll that two daughters' illnesses take on a family living in Atlanta. Of the Handlers' three daughters, two developed fatal, rare bone-marrow disorders: Susie was diagnosed with leukemia when she was six and died two years later; Sarah, the youngest, suffered from Kostmann's syndrome, and died at age 27, in 1992. Haunted by these deaths, the author, the so-called well sibling, revisits her conflicted childhood, when her father, a crusading civil rights lawyer from Harrisburg, Pa., and her kind, smart mother from Boston, were happy and still looking toward the future. The family's move to Atlanta in 1965 allowed the father to support labor unions, and Handler, as the oldest, was alerted to the importance of demonstrations and even taken to the funeral of Martin Luther King. However, with Susie's diagnosis (compounding the worry over Sarah's chronic sickliness), the parents began the slow and terrible turning away from one another that erodes families facing the death of a child. In the last part of this affecting memoir, Handler struggles in her young adulthood to find her own way. "Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
3 wanted4 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.21)
2 5
2.5 4
3 8
3.5 1
4 9
4.5 1
5 1


An edition of this book was published by PublicAffairs.

» Publisher information page

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

Invisible Sisters: A Memoir by Jessica Handler was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 109,184,302 books! | Top bar: Always visible