P.S. I MISS YOU and the Tradition of Sisters in Literature

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I don’t have a sister. I have two younger brothers and I love them dearly. But growing up, I also longed for another girl in the family. Someone to share clothes and nail polish with. Someone to tell my secrets to, deep into the night. Obviously I couldn’t make my parents have another kid. (Especially since I’d have had to go back in time and had that imaginary sister born years and years ago.)

I still longed for that connection, though. It’s what I find in my close friendships now, and what I hope my two daughters will have someday. It’s also what I wrote about in my debut novel, P.S. I Miss You, which is told in letters from twelve-year-old Evie to her older sister Cilla, who has left home after getting pregnant in high school—something that’s highly disapproved of in their strict Catholic family.

Even though much of P.S. I Miss You focuses on Evie’s growing realization that she has romantic feelings for her new friend June, I don’t see this book as a love story between two girls. Yes, there is a crush and yes, there are sweaty palms and hearts skipping a beat. To me, though, the core of P.S. I Miss You is the love story between two sisters. Here are a few of my other favorite sister relationships in middle grade literature:

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall

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I am ridiculously excited for the fourth Penderwick book, The Penderwicks at Last, due out on May 18 of this year. I adore the relationship between Rosalind, Sky, Jane, and Batty, and the way their adventures are simultaneously so quaint and so exciting.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

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I love following the adventures of Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern as they travel to Oakland to stay with their mother, who is active in the Black Panther movement. This book is so vivid with historical detail, and you can feel the emotions of all three girls as they struggle with family relationships and personal identity. (The two sequels are fabulous, too!)

The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko

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This is a newly published book by one of my fellow 2018 debut authors. I love this story of Claire, who follows her older sister Sophie through a ladder in a fireplace into the magical land of Arden, where she’s thrust into a struggle between four warring guilds of magic and has to find a magical treasure…and her sister.

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 10.34.50 AM.pngJen Petro-Roy was born, raised, and still lives in Massachusetts, even though she rejects the idea that snow and cold are ever a good thing. She started writing in third grade, when her classroom performed a play she had written. It was about a witch and a kidnapped girl and a brave crew of adventurers who set out to save the day. As a kid, numerous pictures of Jen often featured Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins books clutched in her hand, so it was just a matter of time until she started writing her own books for children.

In the past, Jen has worked as a teacher and a teen and children’s librarian. She loves running, board games, trivia, and swimming, and has a mild obsession with the television show Jeopardy! P.S. I MISS YOU is her debut novel.

P.S. I MISS YOU releases from Macmillan Children’s Feiwel & Friends today, March 6, 2018. You can find Jen at her website (www.jenpetroroy.com), on Twitter at @jpetroroy, on Instagram as @jpetroroy and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JenPetroRoy/.

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