Deb Rachel Wants To Be A Bergeron Sister

Little Gale Gumbo, by Erika MarksAs someone who has only one brother, I’ve always been fascinated with the relationship between sisters. Fascinated and, yes, a little jealous. It’s this crazy connection that I, despite being uber-close with my big bro, will never understand. First, there’s the air-tight bond. You’re BFFs who can basically read each others’ minds and would go to the mat for each other at a moment’s notice.

Except, of course, when you hate each other.

Because the rage between two sisters fighting is as fierce as the love between the siblings on their best day. In my past life, when I sat in a cubicle, I’d sometimes overhear my cube neighbor fighting with her sister on the phone. Even through the portable wall that separated us, I could sense her anger. And then I’d stay away. Far away.

It’s a loaded thing, that sibling bond. I know about love and hate and the thin line, but never are the two emotions so clearly juxtaposed as between sisters.

These family bonds are at the heart of Little Gale Gumbo. Josie and Dahlia are up there with the March girls and the Traveling Pantsers as some of my favorite fictional sibs. They are best friends, except when they are worst enemies.

So, of course I needed to know how this relationship fit into Erika’s own life. Does she have a sister of her own? How’d she tap into those complex sibling dynamics? They seem pretty on point. Is any of Josie and Dahlia’s relationship taken from Erika’s own life?

Says dear Erika: “I do indeed have a younger sister and we are very close. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t draw from our relationship for the book–specifically in the ways the sisters behave with one another. My sister and I don’t fight often but when we do, we fight just like Dahlia and Josie–in a ridiculous, dramatic burst and then it’s over, we’re best friends again. Which I suspect is the same for many siblings. (Anyone care to add data to this theory of mine?) I wanted to convey that closeness, that loyalty between sisters, but I also wanted to explore the inevitable conflicts that that sort of loyalty can bring about. As much as Dahlia loves Josie, she has to make a choice that results in her possessing a secret she knows would break Josie’s heart–and she has to live with that. It doesn’t change her devotion to her sister, but it certainly causes incredible strain on their relationship at times.”

Oooh, a good answer, peppered with a bit of mystery! Aren’t you just DYING to know what the secret is? You should be. It’s juicy.

What is it between sisters anyway? Please explain to me below. And feel free to chime in with your own favorite fictional siblings!

25 Replies to “Deb Rachel Wants To Be A Bergeron Sister”

  1. I wrote an entire book to try to figure out sibling relationships, and I still don’t know! Maybe the fact that they are impossible to understand is what makes them so appealing.

    And YES, I am dying to know! I have a ridiculous number of books in my TBR pile, a few of which have deadlines, and it is taking a lot of effort not to sneak Erika’s to the top!

  2. Oh, Rachel–I love that you highlighted Josie and Dahlia’s relationship and I truly appreciate that it resonated with you.

    Now as a parent of two girls close in age, I have such hope for them that they will have as strong a relationship as I have with my sister–but I also know to expect it will be as fraught with the same complications that can come from that dynamic…At the end of the day though, sisters can be one another’s truest friends–and that bond is so special, even when you’re screaming at one another through the cubicle walls 😉 (Now if you tell me that old co-worker had her sister on speaker phone as they were fighting, well that would be TRULY impressive!)

    I think it’s the depth of emotion in that bond that makes it such a compelling relationship in novels. There are so many layers to it. So many opportunities for tension and conflict! Hooray!

  3. I always wanted a sister, too. Three brothers, wonderful people though they are, just aren’t the same. It’s probably why I’m so attracted to books with strong sister relationships, like LGG — I get to experience it vicariously.

    Of course, I never had to share a bedroom when I was a kid, the way my brothers did. So a sister-less life is not without its perks. 😉

    Dahlia and Josie are my new favorites, but before them I’d have to say Trixie Belden and her brother Mart. They teased and bickered constantly, but it was obvious they loved each other.

    1. Oh, thank you, Linda! It’s funny you should say that about living vicariously, my next WIP (which is waiting in the wings, you know how that goes!) follows a woman who has two older brothers–because I always wondered what those dynamics might be like…I may have to ask your opinion as I go along… 😉

  4. My sister was my worst enemy when we were younger. Dramatic fights? Well, let’s just saying we weren’t above pulling hair and biting and punching for half an hour straight when mom went to the grocery store, until we both collapsed, exhausted licking our wounds before mom got back.
    But I also know that nobody knows me the way she does. We are so very, very different but inexplicably . . . in a way. . . very much the same person. I feel very lucky to have a sister and know that in my whole life, I will never have another friend like her. Now we’re so close, we live next door to each other!
    I’m halfway through Little Gale Gumbo and I just love it. I curled up in bed last night, warm, sweet coffee in one hand and Little Gale Gumbo in the other, and it was just what reading and getting lost in a story should be. I can’t wait to neglect my family again tonight to finish it and see what happens between Josie and Dahlia!

    1. This is so fascinating to me. Pulling hair and kicking, and then right back to love? Like I said, it boggles my mind!

      Though my brother did “jokingly” run after me with a kitchen knife sometimes when he babysat. It was “all in good fun” i was told!

    2. Oh, I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying it, Jenny! Shall I send over some pizza for your family tonight? I feel somewhat obligated…

      And your words about your sister hit home and I envy you–I SO wish my sister and I lived closer!!

  5. I never had a sister either, but instead have three brothers (Linda – we need to compare stories), so it was definitely a different dynamic in the Levy house than what the Bergeron girls lived with. I jealously never wanted to have a sister to compete with, but always loved reading about sisters and their relationships and how there was always a built-in best friend, even if sometimes the road was rocky. I think Erika did a particularly great job in capturing the love and passion between these two very different sisters. It’s amazing how family throws together people who would probably never have a relationship otherwise and in the end, they make it work, despite a lot of bumps along the way.

    1. You are so right that there’s a level of competition between sisters that isn’t the same with a brother. No stealing of each others clothes, either. I love that episode of the Cosby Show when Vanessa “borrows” Denise’s shirt and suddenly they are wrestling on the bed and almost kill Cliff!

    2. You are so kind, Joanne–and I love that point. That more often than not, families probably wouldn’t pick each other, but there they are. That’s what I think I found so fascinating about writing the sisters–that they each carry their own secret, knowing it would break the other’s heart, but knowing they must hold on to their secrets–and maybe consider the idea that even between the closest siblings, there will always be secrets. That it may just be unavoidable.

  6. I agree with Eleanor — sister relationships are impossible to understand! I have a sister & a step-sister, and even in adulthood our relationships are ever-shifting. I don’t know, ladies — brothers always seemed easier! 🙂

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