Publishers: Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux
In life, there are always people we don’t get along with or find hard to understand, but what happens when the person who is hardest to befriend is your own brother? The relationship between siblings lies at the center of “Apples & Oranges.” When, in Marie Brenner’s case, sibling rivalry is a fundamental part of the brother-sister dynamic, is it possible to change that familial relationship? Even when the situation is desperate?
“Apples & Oranges” chronicles the story of Marie and her brother Carl (as well as other interesting members of the Brenner clan), a relationship that has been contentious almost from birth…or at least dating back to Carl, age 3, throwing his baby sister out the window. Fast forward to adulthood, where the separation of siblings is not only geographical, but entrenched by their vastly different personalities; Carl is a conservative apple grower, living in Washington state, while Marie, a classic New York liberal, makes a living as an investigative journalist for “Vanity Fair.” Their worlds could not be more different, so too, their personalities.
As adult siblings, every encounter remains strained. When Carl sends precious fruit from his orchards as a gift to Marie, it comes complete with instructions and follow-up phone calls. Even Carl’s decision to share his life-altering secret (a terminal disease) is done by letter to Marie delivered via FedEx and scheduled to arrive after the Thanksgiving holiday. In turn, when Marie decides to fly out to Washington upon learning the news, Carl is not informed ahead of time for fear of sibling rejection.
With such a long way to go, is it possible for two individuals so separate in their philosophies and life styles to come together as family in the face of this crisis? For Marie, it is the only solution. While she can’t save her brother’s life (despite all her investigative skills--in this case, applied to medical research to save her brother), Marie believes that if she and her brother can somehow bridge the gap that has existed for so many years, it will be enough.
The journey to that place of understanding is the essence of this book, and Brenner has used her unsparing journalistic eye (even on her own behavior) to tell a story that is gripping. For anyone who has ever been frustrated with a sibling, the raw emotion set on the page here will resonate. It’s the pebble in the shoe that we live with in our relationships, it’s the way of thinking that just seems impossible to understand, it’s the human frailty that makes us all the imperfect people that we are.
The above review was contributed by: Christine Zibas. Christine has spent all of her life in love with books, and most of her life working with words. She has a B.A. in Political Science from WesternIllinoisUniversity and did advanced studies in politics and publishing at WIU, OxfordUniversity, GeorgeWashingtonUniversity, and Stanford.To read more of Christine's Reviews CLICK HERE
For many years Christine was an editor in the think tank world, editing books and reports on international relations and military studies. She worked at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. and the Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute, where she served as director of publications. In London she was the editor at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
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