Siblings - mine, Julia's, and William's!
Today is my big brother’s birthday! So I want to talk about him first, and then about sibling relationships in The Catch.
About my brother...
My brother is almost six years older than me. I grew up hearing the stories about how he begged my parents for a sibling, and when he finally got me, he was so excited!
Maybe because of that, he was (and still is) a great big brother. He played with me, read to me, and defended me from bullies. I’ll never forget the time I was riding home from school on the back of his bike. I pointed to a boy named David as he passed us by. David was my bully. My brother calmly stopped the bike, lifted me off, and told me to wait there. Then he tore off after David, grabbed him, slammed him up against the fence, and told him never to mess with his little sister again.
I don’t condone violence, but guess what? David never bothered me again. Neither did pretty much anyone else.
I’m no dummy, but by comparison, my brother makes me look like an absolute cretin. He got some score over 1500 (out of a then-1600) on his SATs, joined the Army after high school, and attended West Point Prep. He also learned German and Arabic at the military language school in Monterey, California. After his service, he got his degrees in Classics (learning Greek and Latin) and Information Systems.
He introduced me to movies and music that I still appreciate to this day. He gave me the U2 Joshua Tree cassette when it first came out. He also gave me Journey’s Escape album. I didn’t appreciate them at first (I was into Madonna and Michael Jackson in those days). But when I got to be a teenager, they were my first foray into rock. My first-ever concert was Rush, with my brother.
Now, my brother is married with two daughters, who are exactly the same age (within one month) of my youngest two daughters. I live in California now, but when I go home to Texas, it’s such a joy to see the cousins play so joyfully together, and to catch up with my brother and his amazing wife. I love him very much. Happy birthday, Big B!!!
Siblings, and family in general...
Now – perhaps because of my own positive sibling and family relationships, families and siblings play an important role in just about everything I write. I was an adult before I appreciated the fact that not everybody grows up with such tight family bonds, or with such regular family interactions, as I did. I hope this isn’t insulting or patronizing in any way, but I often feel like my family, and the values we share, is very similar to a lot of Latino or Italian families I encounter in life, in the sense of the closeness and the central importance of family in general. I know who my second cousins are. We all got together at least once a month to celebrate the birthdays of every single member of my extended family. We also had annual family reunions in Eagle Lake, Texas, where we watched the alligators on the lake and sang Baptist hymns around the piano that my Uncle Jolly played. It was such a wonderful way to grow up. And it makes me so sad that my own daughters are not having that same experience growing up in California, far from family.
I’d also like to acknowledge that I have two step-siblings; but sadly, they have both passed away. I am not sure their stories are really mine to tell – I’ll have to check on that. But each of them impacted me profoundly in different ways – including helping me to have a much better attitude about life in general.
Siblings in The Catch...
Anyway, The Catch is no exception – siblings (and family in general) play a crucial role.
Julia’s sister Alison, who is twenty months older, is one of Julia’s best friends.
Like all sisters, they get into arguments, but ultimately they have each other’s backs in ways no one else ever will. It’s Alison who makes sure Julia has access to the birth control and sex ed she needs. And yet, Alison is far from perfect. Her own love life is, shall we say, extremely fluid, which is not a bad thing in and of itself (absolutely zero slut-shaming here). But honestly, sometimes Alison is just a hot mess. We’ll learn more about her in the upcoming sequel to The Catch. And I may end up writing a whole separate book about Alison and her relationship with Mike!
Speaking of Mike, if you’ve read The Catch, you know he is William’s older brother. One of two older brothers, in fact. But without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say William is far closer to Mike than he is to Jimmy, even though Mike could not be more different from William in both appearance and personality. Mike protected William at a crucial moment of William’s life.
But Mike has his own problems, and William now feels a somewhat codependent duty to protect Mike from himself. William genuinely and deeply loves his brother Mike, even while recognizing his many faults and flaws. But in The Catch, William has to decide how much responsibility he wants to continue shouldering for Mike’s well-being; and that arc will continue to play out in the upcoming sequel!
Finally, there’s William younger sister, Kelly – the only girl in his immediate family.
She and William are also very close, albeit in probably a healthier way than William and Mike are. Kelly is very protective of William and his heart. She comes across as severe and no-nonsense in The Catch, and she definitely suffers no fools. But we’ll see much more of her arc in the upcoming sequel, as well as in the “midquel” I’m writing from William’s perspective!
What about you?
Do you have any siblings? How have they impacted your life? Let me know in the comments below! If you want to get an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at the upcoming sequel to The Catch, plus updates when I post to this blog, please subscribe here!