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You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation throughout Their Livesby Deborah Tannen
Synopses & Reviews
Sisters in Lifelong Conversation
“I love her to death. I can’t imagine life without her,” a woman says of her sister. Another says of hers, “I want to be around her all the time. She’s the only one who knows all kinds of stuff from the past. All we have to do is say one word, and we know when the other one will start laughing.” I heard many comments like these from women who told me that their relationships with their sisters are among the most precious aspects of their lives.
I also heard comments like this one: “I don’t want anyone to kill my sister because I want to have the privilege of doing that myself.”
Though they sound so different, these remarks have something in common: the intensity of feelings behind them. Sister relationships are among the most passionate of our lives. One woman explained, “My relationship with my sister is more deeply emotional than any other.” Yet another, after telling me ways her sister had hurt her— tales of betrayal that made me wonder why she still talks to the perpetrator at all— said, “No matter how difficult my sister is, she is still part of me, part of my past, my present, and my future.” Then she added, echoing the comment I quoted at the start: “Love her or hate her, I can’t imagine life without her.” Conversations with sisters can spark extremes of anger or extremes of love. Everything said between sisters carries meaning not only from what was just said but from all the conversations that came before— and “before” can span a lifetime. The layers of meaning combine profound connection with equally profound competition. Both the competition and the connection are complicated by inevitable comparison with someone whose life has been so similar to yours and yet so different— and always in your view.
What’s Ideal, What’s Real?
I was chatting with four women at a party. As we talked, we gradually sat down, then drew our chairs into a circle. The other party guests looked on with curiosity or envy as our tight little group erupted in laughter or rippled with a wave of knowing nods. I had brought up the topic of sisters.
Laxmi, a woman visiting from India, was extolling hers. “When we meet we can’t get enough of each other,” she said. “When we ride in a car together, my husband threatens, ‘I’m taking another car You two never stop talking and laughing ’ She’s my lifeline. I’m her lifeline. If I say one word, she knows what I’m going to say. We’ve made a pact that we’ll take a vacation together at least once a year.” Another woman in our group remarked sadly, “That’s why I always wished I had a sister.” I wanted to learn more about this wonderful sister relationship, so before the party ended I arranged to interview Laxmi one on one.
The following week, Laxmi and I sat down in private. The first thing she told me was that she had recently gone through a year during which she refused to speak
Explores the connections among sisters throughout their childhood years into adulthood, including competitiveness, age differences, and lifelong friendships.
Conversations between sisters reveal a deep and constant tug between two dynamics--an impulse toward closeness and an impulse toward competition. It takes just a word from your sister to start youlaughing, or to summon up a past you both share. But it also takes just a word to send you into an emotional tailspin. For many women, a sister is both a devoted friend and a fierce rival.
Wise andwitty, You Were Always Mom's Favorite will leave you with a profound new understanding of the unique and precious sister bond, as well as provide practical advice that willopen up communication, dispel tensions, and make a vital connection even stronger, deeper, and more resilient.
About the Author
Deborah Tannen is the acclaimed author of You Just Don’t Understand, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly four years including eight months as the ten-week New York Times bestseller You’re Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You’re All Adults, which won the Books for a Better Life Award; Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work; That’s Not What I Meant!; and many other books. A professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, she has written for and been featured in newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. She appears frequently on TV and radio, including such shows as 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Colbert Report, Nightline, Today, Good Morning America, and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She is university professor and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, and has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.
Table of Contents
Sisters in lifelong conversation — "We're close but we're different": compare and contrast — Looking up and talking down: competition and the array of age — Whose side are you on?: Understanding alignment — "I'll be the princess, you be the frog": younger sister: the view from the frog — Gateway to the world: older sister: the view from the gate — It's all talk: sisterspeak and genderlect — Sisterness: the good, the bad, and how to get more of the lovely.
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