Invis­i­ble Sis­ters: A Memoir

Jes­si­ca Handler
  • Review
By – December 12, 2011
Dis­eased blood killed Jessica’s sis­ters. The med­ical aspects of these ill­ness­es are explained ear­ly in the book. Cau­sa­tion, symp­toms, prog­noses, are laid out at the begin­ning, cap­tur­ing the reader’s inter­est and sym­pa­thy. The human con­se­quences of these ill­ness­es will fol­low soon enough. 

Mean­while, the family’s his­to­ry is described, begin­ning with Jack and Mimi Handler’s wed­ding at Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty, and pro­ceed­ing to a series of moves around the coun­try and out­side it as well. After study­ing for a law degree in Philadel­phia, Jack moved his fam­i­ly to Atlanta, Geor­gia where they joined young lib­er­al Jew­ish fam­i­lies like them­selves who had also migrat­ed there to par­tic­i­pate in the 1960’s African Amer­i­can strug­gle for social jus­tice and vot­ing rights. 

With ten­der­ness as well as lac­er­at­ing detail, Jesse unfolds the inevitable break­down of her fam­i­ly: the father, who turned to flight abroad and drugs to escape this fam­i­ly tragedy, and the two sis­ters who can do noth­ing but final­ly suc­cumb to their fates. Jes­si­ca alone appears to have been the author of her own survival. 

Claire Rudin is a retired direc­tor of the New York City school library sys­tem and for­mer librar­i­an at the Holo­caust Resource Cen­ter and Archives in Queens, NY. She is the author of The School Librar­i­an’s Source­book and Chil­dren’s Books About the Holocaust.

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