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"My Sister, My Self" captures the sister bond in all of its intensity and dimensions--the delight, the need, the love, the resentments, the deep, abiding comfort. If you are a sister, you will find yourself--and your sister--in this intimate and revealing book.

Marian Sandmaier, Author, Original Kin: The Search for Connection Among Adult Sisters and Brothers



"My Sister, My Self" is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the vital role that sisters play in developing and influencing each other's lives. It's an important addition to the growing body of 'sister' literature as well as a valuable handbook for women trying to navigate this deep and complex relationship.

Carole Saline, Co-Author of Sisters



Stark covers sisterhood in all of its glory. By the end of the book, I longed to have had a sister. While examining the wondrous bond, she also explores the birth order role you had with your sister and how it affects you today. An excellent writer, Stark is also a seasoned therapist who knows that all is not rosy in the sisterhood. She explores the ten percent of sister relationships that are thorny. She wisely offers some techniques, not for fixing the relationship, but for resolving your feelings about it.

Cathy McClure Gildiner, Ph.D. Psychologist and Author of Too Close to the Falls and Seduction



Tender, touching, funny, painful and poetic...Vikki Stark's study of sibling relationships will take you to new depths of understanding of yourself, your sister, and the myriad ways you shaped each others' lives. Best of all, you'll find a wealth of workable suggestions for getting past old, hurtful, self-defeating patterns to a healthier, happier relationship with the one woman who shares your genes and your history.

Adele Faber, Co-Author of Siblings Without Rivalry: How To Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too



A warm and practical discussion of the sisterly relationship that, perhaps because it is between woman and woman, has never been given the attention it deserves. A scrupulous work that will be useful to a great many women.

Nuala O’Faolain, Author of Are You Somebody?





My Sister, My Self

The Surprising Ways that Being an Older,
Middle, Younger or Twin Shaped Your Life

Vikki Stark, M.S.W

Understanding sister relationships, birth order and conflictual, care-taking or super close sister bonds



My Sister, My Self: The Surprising Ways that Being an Older, Middle, Younger or Twin Shaped Your Life will reveal to you the remarkable extent to which your place in the sister hierarchy made you who you are today. You will be amazed to learn that your choice of occupation, your love relationship, the friends you choose, even how you feel about your own body, are all directly related to your role as a sister. This book will make what has been invisible about why you are the way you are, visible!

Included in My Sister, My Self are strategies and techniques to help those readers who want to break out of limiting sister roles, or improve their relationship with a sister. You will read about the heartbreak and frustration of high-conflict connections, the burden of caretaking a sister in need, as well as the magic of those who enjoy super-close sister bonds.

My Sister, My Self contains the stories of the 400 women, teens and girls who opened their homes and their hearts to tell their stories in The Sisters Project. You will hear their tales, often funny, sometimes poignant, and their reflections about life with their sisters, both as kids and as adults.

Here are the voices of some of the women in The Sisters Project:


From an older sister

When I was about thirteen, I asked my mother if I could get my ears pierced. My mother said I was much too young, but she would agree to it when I turned sixteen. All those years I looked forward to my sixteenth birthday, and when we were finally on our way to the jewelry store, I can't tell you how excited I was. But . . . my sister came along – she was eleven – and when she saw all the pretty earrings, she started to nag my mother and nag my mother to let her get her ears pierced, too. I couldn't believe it when my mother finally gave in. I got so mad, I was furious, and then my mother got mad at me for being selfish and making such a big fuss, and she said, "What's the big deal? You got your ears pierced, didn't you?"

From a younger sister:

When I was ten and my sister was twelve, our grandmother gave us two dolls that she had made clothes for: one was brunette like we were and the other was blonde. My sister said I could choose which doll I wanted and she would take the other. I agonized for days over which doll was the better one - which doll she would choose. Finally, I figured that maybe she would think the better doll was the dark haired one, so I choose the brunette. Then, my sister said, “Good! I wanted the blonde one!”

From a middle sister

I think I saw myself as independent from a very early age. The classic story in my family is about my first day of nursery school. My mother walked me there with all the other mothers on our street. All the kids were clinging to their mothers' aprons crying, 'I don't wanna go to school!' while I was cheerfully saying, 'Bye! See-ya! Later!' From four or five years on, I was like 'Okay, I'm outta here'. My life outside the home was very different than inside the home. I felt quite at odds most of the time with what I was being offered at home.

From a twin sister

People compared us all the time. Who's prettier? Who's smarter? Who's nicer? When we're doing sports – which one's faster? Constantly! I think people do that because when they're struck with a similarity, they look for a difference. People naturally assume that no two people who are so alike could be equal. We're not equal, but we're very much alike. We didn't compete with each other but others would do it for us and that was something that I used to find very painful. It was okay if she was better, but I found it very hard if they thought I was better. It made me feel guilty and protective of her and she's told me that she had the same sort of reaction.

From a sister in conflict

It wasn't a good dynamic with my sister. Dina was a thorn in everybody's side. She was very dominant, very pushy, very aggressive, very attractive. A mean-spirited, bullying kind of person. I don't think that my parents could do very much about that. It was a matter of getting from one episode to the next. I was much quieter, maybe more passive, so the bottom line for me was never to cause any trouble, no matter what.

From a teenager who feels exceptionally close to her sister

She's the person I love the most in this world and it's very, very hard to describe the relationship I have with her because she completes me totally. She's my right hand; she's my second half. If I take a second to imagine what life would be like without her, I start to cry. We love each other very much. She helps me in a lot of different ways. As long as I can remember, my parents always wanted us to stick together. So we're always, always together. We go to the same parties. At school, we always see each other and go home together. When she's going to need help…well, she's stronger than I am so she gives me a lot of moral support. I couldn't live here without her.

From a caretaker sister

I am now a little bit more able to pull away from my sister – from the dominating pain-in-the-neck that she has become in my life. I know that sounds cruel. I've sort of backed off a little bit. What I've been doing is exhausting, emotionally and physically but, most importantly, it doesn't help her. I recently realized, and it's taken me a lifetime, that it isn't my role to make her happy, it isn't my role to save her, 'cause I tried. I'm a nurturer but I don't nurture myself.

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