BROTHER AND SISTER by Diane Keaton

I am so very honored to have reviewed Diane Keaton’s new book, Brother and Sister. Thank you, Alfred A. Knopf for this gifted book.⠀

Diane Keaton book review from Botany and Bookends

We know her as spunky, eccentric, quirky and free-spirited. We love her fashion sense and decorating expertise and admire her longevity in film.⠀

Her newest book, BROTHER AND SISTER, gives a rare, inside look into the upbringing of Diane and her younger siblings, Randy, Robin and Dorrie. This book focuses on the complicated relationship with her brother, two years her junior. Diane and Randy were born in a typical 1950’s middle-class home to a doting mother and a hard-working father. As their family income increased, so did the size of their homes and their family unit.⠀

Randy is a deeply passionate poet (many of his beautiful works are woven within the book) and an artist with an equally complicated mind. Creative genius is often disguised as ‘disturbed’ or ‘peculiar’ and such was the life that Randy led. Succumbing to alcohol as a task-master, Randy’s familial relationships crumbled. ⠀

What is the responsibility of a family member when another continually pushes you away? This is a common question asked by all matters of families. As Keaton’s career began to rise, she shares of the extreme difficulties and loss she was experiencing in her family home. She wrote of specific movies (movies I have watched and loved) and what was simultaneously going on with her family. I see the movies in a completely different light now, imagining the difficulty she must have had while trying to work PLUS care for extended family members.

As so many of us are want to do, she asks herself if she did enough. Was I too closed-off? Should I have done more? Questions that haunt many of us while dealing with dysfunction of any kind.

I read this book in just a few sittings, but it is not an easy read. Keaton’s voice is heard within each story regaled. Her awkward optimism evident throughout. As a reader it is a bit jolting when we fully realize how ‘everyday’ our on-screen heroes are. This book shines a spotlight on that truth. ⠀

Perhaps this book will help you better understand that you are not alone. That family is not always easy and yet, as the years climb, our desire for understanding and our acceptance of reality reaches a more peaceful coexistence.⠀

I appreciate Keaton’s willingness to lift the veil on such a beautifully entangled area of her life. I am certain many will find a sense of commonality among her words.⠀

(book release in early February.)

THE LAST ROMANTICS by Tara Conklin

102-year-old, Fiona Skinner had been out of public life for 25 years. Questions about her body of work were numerous at her first public appearance. Wanting to skip ahead to the end of the evening, Fiona was not prepared when a question came from one of the audience members, “Who was your inspiration in your book, ‘The Love Poem’?” Fiona tells an intimate tale of familial struggles and sibling rivalry; a personal story with universal appeal. Who hasn’t said the wrong thing or felt betrayal and disappointment within the confines of the people with which we share DNA? The question then becomes: how do we move forward?⠀

The Last Romantics is ripe with beautiful word imagery, deeply held secrets and recognizable familial challenges. The story is told from Fiona’s viewpoint, the youngest of four siblings. Readers are entranced by her stories that shaped and molded who she has become. The book details each sibling’s intersecting story and the way in which they forged their survival after loss and love and time. It is a celebration of siblings as well as an insight into the struggle that arises from this deeply connected bond. As family members we fall into roles that we both cherish and resent. We have shared stories that can, at times, be very differently interpreted. What keeps us together? What will pry us apart? What lengths will we go to protect each other?⠀

You will introspect. You will love. You will find a hard gulp in your throat. And then you’ll call your sibling and thank them for putting up with it all and for being a beautiful, integral part of your life story.