There’s nothing quite as powerful as the bonds that exist between sisters. They’re tense as hell, but full of love and loyalty. That’s probably because sisters are often pitted against each other — whether they want to be or not. Thankfully, this all makes for * excellent * dRaMa when it comes to novels, where sisters can torture and love up on one another in equal measure. (Thinking of you, Little Women!)
That’s part of the reason why I wanted to focus on two sisters who are super close in age in my second novel, the YA thriller They’ll Never Catch Us (more on that below!). I wanted to create a relationship that was full of rage and strength and wasn’t always so neat and tidy, or easy to explain to those outside their relationship.
But I was also inspired by so many excellent novels about sisters that craft complicated narratives about these tenuous relationships. They’re often built on love and strength — but still, these literary sisters lie, cheat, steal, and sometimes kill. They’re so fun to read about!
Ahead, check out 12 excellent novels about sisters — and a bit about my own.
1 My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Umm, holy crap, here’s a book that floored me. This breathtaking, suspenseful novel tells the story of older sister Korede who is practical and loyal, most often to her younger sister Ayoola. The only thing is that Ayoola is harboring a deep secret only Korede knows: Ayoola is probably, most likely, definitely a serial killer — and all her boyfriends end up dead.
Korede’s always been there to help clean up the blood and cover for her sister, but when Ayoola sets her sights on Korede’s co-worker, who Korede’s been in love with forever, she has to make a choice about who to protect. Creep-tastic and fun, this book’s a finish-in-one-sitting kind of read.
2 The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
Bravo fans, this one’s for you. Five extremely successful women star in a reality show called Goal Diggers but when Kelly, who is a fan favorite Brett’s older sister, joins the cast, the power balances between the stars shift and the season they’re filming ends in murder. Sure, it’s a propulsive thriller, but Knoll’s second novel is also a dynamic critique of the inauthenticity in #GirlBoss culture.
3 Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Beginning in the eighteenth century Ghana, Homegoing introduces two half-sisters born in different villages who have no idea the other even exists. One sister marries an Englishman and becomes nobility while the other is imprisoned in her sister’s castle and then sold into slavery. From this story, Gyasi tells an epic narrative following not only these two sisters but also their descendants as they make their way through decades of hardships and colonialism. Oprah chose it as one of her best books of the year when it came out and it’s easy to see why: Homegoing is stunning.
4 They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman
Stella and Ellie Steckler couldn’t be more different, but there’s one thing they’re both obsessed with: winning. As the stars of their small town’s cross country team, they’re constantly competing for the top spot and a college scholarship that their family desperately needs since they can only afford to send one of them to school. But when a new girl Mila comes to town and threatens to beat them both on the course, the Steckler sisters find their lives completely upended. Soon, Mila disappears and thanks to Stella’s violent past, all eyes turn to the Steckler sisters as suspects. They’ll Never Catch Us is about how far these sisters will go to protect one another — even when they probably shouldn’t.
5 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Before Greta Gerwig made us (okay, me) uncontrollably sob with her film version, Louisa May Alcott also DID. THAT. with the iconic original novel, published in 1868. Whether you’re a Meg, Jo, Beth, or Amy, the March sisters and their stories are still relevant for a reason — the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood never really change.
6 The Vanishing Half: A Novel by Brit Bennett
Riverhead Books bookshop.org
Brit Bennett’s extraordinary second novel follows twin sisters Stella and Desiree, who were born in the small town of Mallard, Louisiana, where Black residents are known for having light skin. But their lives diverge when the twins flee to New Orleans and Stella lives her life as a white woman while Desiree lives her life as a Black woman. What results is an epic family story spanning multiple generations, decades, and perspectives. (PS: There’s a limited series adaptation in the works at HBO and OMG it’s going to be good.)
7 God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney
In McKinney’s beautiful, intimate debut novel, sisters Abigail and Caroline have always been the dutiful daughters to Luke Nolan, a famed preacher at an Evangelical mega-church in Texas. But when they learn Luke has been lying to everyone, Abigail and Caroline camp out at their family ranch where they uncover old family secrets and share ones they’ve kept from everyone — even each other.
8 Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi
A supremely fun update to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Pride follows Zuri Benetiz, an Afro-Latino Brooklyn teenager who is desperately trying to save her gentrifying neighborhood. But when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri’s older sister Janae begins crushing on one of their teenage sons and all hell breaks loose. (If you’ve read the original Pride and Prejudice, then you know what I mean.)
9 Sisters by Daisy Johnosn
Sisters July and September are only ten months apart in age and are each other’s only real solace in their depressing new home, a rotting house owned by an aunt. They traveled there with their shut-away mother after some looming incident occurred at school. But the real tension in this book happens when distance comes between between the two sisters, because even when there’s no one else around, the past never really goes away. Dun dun dun!
10 The Project by Courtney Summers
After the Denham sisters’ parents die in a car crash, Lo and Bea have a falling out when older sis Bea joins a “community” (yeah, it’s a cult) called the Unity Project and Lo is left to fend for herself. But after six years of separation, it finally gets a chance to reconnect with Bea. Except once she gets closer to the Unity Project, she starts to learn more about its prolific and beloved leader — and what kind of danger Bea might be in.
11 Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
No one does twists like Gillian Flynn and if you’ve seen the HBO series based on this book then you know what twist I’m talking about (AHHHH!). The novel follows Camille, who reluctantly returns to her tiny hometown to report on the murders of two girls and in the process falls back into old routines with her hypochondriac mother and her 13-year-old half-sister, whom she barely knows. Camille is an unreliable narrator who will suck you into this dark, freaky, and thrilling story.
12 To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Before it was a Netflix sensation (Peter Kavinsky forever!), The 2018 YA rom-com was a beloved novel that focused on Lara Jean Covey’s wildly entertaining love life. But Han’s series is also rooted in the bonds between Lara Jean and her sisters: Margot, who heads off to school in Scotland, and Kitty, who Lara Jean cares for in the wake of their mother’s death. Song sisters forever!
Jessica Goodman Op-Ed Editor Jessica Goodman is Cosmopolitan’s op-ed editor, where she edits essays and opinion pieces.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io