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Publisher's Summary

A warm, empathetic guide to understanding, coping with, and healing from the unique pain of sibling estrangement

"Whenever I tell people that I am working on a book about sibling estrangement, they sit up a little straighter and lean in, as if I've tapped in to a dark secret."

Fern Schumer Chapman understands the pain of sibling estrangement firsthand. For the better part of 40 years, she had nearly no relationship with her only brother, despite many attempts at reconnection. Her grief and shame were devastating and isolating. But when she tried to turn to others for help, she found that a profound stigma still surrounded estrangement, and that very little statistical and psychological research existed to help her better understand the rift that had broken up her family. So she decided to conduct her own research, interviewing psychologists and estranged siblings as well as recording the extraordinary story of her own rift with her brother - and subsequent reconciliation. 

Brothers, Sisters, Strangers is the result - a thoughtfully researched memoir that illuminates both the author's own story and the greater phenomenon of estrangement. Chapman helps listeners work through the challenges of rebuilding a sibling relationship that seems damaged beyond repair, as well as understand when estrangement is the best option. It is at once a detailed framework for understanding sibling estrangement, a beacon of solidarity and comfort for the estranged, and a moving memoir about family trauma, addiction, grief, and recovery.

©2021 Fern Schumer Chapman (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Moving...Chapman’s at her best when speaking about the vulnerability required of both sister and brother to repair their relationship. This reflective tale both captivates and educates.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Fern Schumer Chapman is a superb writer. In this stunning family memoir, she fearlessly probes the 40-year estrangement from her brother and chronicles their uneasy road to reconciliation. Along the way, she deftly weaves in pertinent social science research, capturing the voices and insights of hundreds of people suffering from sibling alienation. Brothers, Sisters, Strangers deserves to be read and discussed for years to come.” (James B. Lieber, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author of Friendly Takeover

“A primer in mending familial fences blended with an affecting memoir.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about Brothers, Sisters, Strangers

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tough topic, very well done and needed

I loved this book. it helped me to step back and view my estrangement from a new lense and come to a place of healing, even apart from reconciliation. thank you for sharing your story, for providing great questions to consider and for being part of my own journey. I'm glad God brought this book to me

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Essential for any Possibly-Estranged Family Members

This book is amazing. It’s heartfelt, inspiring, looks clearly at the pain of falling away from family (specifically siblings). Interwoven with robust, scientific research on the subject from academia of therapy, the personal story of the author (a professional therapist, I believe) and accounts the author collects for research for this book. I found it very insightful, helpful, instructive and overall validating of the approach I have attempted to broach in my own situations.

The author mentions that the few researchers that focus on Sibling Estrangement state that they consider it a current epidemic. When I reflect on my own life, my own connections, their stories, I can see this may be true- I have known at least one or more persons in any social sphere that seems to be estranged from their sibling. This book may help us understand how to heal thoroughly, regardless of whether we’re the one cut off, or cutting off, or witness to the cut.

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An Inspiring Story

“Brothers, Sisters, Strangers” is an inspiring story of how the author and her brother mended their relationship after decades of being out of touch. Anyone who has experienced issues with family will get a lot out of this book.

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Sisters and Brothers

I found this book to be very informative and helpful. As the oldest of five very different and complicated siblings, I feel this book will help me navigate these relationships.

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Imsightful.

Helped me understand some if my own family dynamics. Touching story of the authorized and her brother.

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Beautifully written and deeply insightful

This is a fascinating first-person account of a traumatic, decades-long sibling rift, It is also a practical, well-researched resource on sibling estrangement and an excellent guide for those seeking reconciliation. The author writes movingly of the painful family history she and her brother share and the journey they each make to overcome it. Brothers, Sisters Strangers is both a remarkable memoir and an examination of the debilitating shame and emotional damage caused by sibling estrangement.









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  • Jacqueline Swan
  • 09-11-21

Amazing book

I have listened to this book twice already and will probably listen to it several more times. It has been my anchor of hope and my solace. I have been painfully separated from my sister for a few years now and I long to find a way back. There was a lot of good advice and resources. The stories were comforting too and I could relate to a lot of it. There were things shared that I have never heard before that I thought I was alone in experiencing. Now I know that I am completely normal and just the same as everybody else experiencing estrangement. It is a painful process.

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  • youraveragewoman
  • 08-12-21

Incredible

This has helped so much. I was amazed by how much I related to the experiences in this book. A God send