Love them or hate them, brothers and sisters are here to stay—at least in books. They can be the source of conflict, competition, or comfort but, more often than not, when siblings team up they’re pretty much unstoppable. They’re peppered pretty liberally across genres and you doubtlessly have your favorites, but here are my personal top ten families:
10.The Baudelaires, A Series of Unfortunate Events
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny recently made it into our roundup of most dysfunctional families, and given their eclectic collection of extended family members, that certainly is a fair assessment. But when it comes to the siblings themselves, their teamwork is truly admirable. Amidst the constant danger and intrigue in which they find themselves, they always have each other’s backs, and it doesn’t hurt that inventor Violet, bookworm Klaus, and teeth-of-steel Sunny complement each other’s skillsets beautifully as they take on snakes, schemes, and suspicious uncles.
9.The Famous Five
Maybe its because at a young age I found my French father’s collection of translated Enid Blyton novels, but the Famous Five—siblings Julian, Dick, and Anne, cousin Georgina, and dog Timmy—were a staple of my childhood. Nearly seventy years old, the series may seem a little dated, but this group of earnest, innocent children still managed to have enough adventures to fill the pages of twenty-one full novels. And don’t you sometimes wish that life was just an endless bucolic summer vacation, spent exploring smugglers’ tunnels with your best friends? [Yes. —Ed.]
8.The Lisbon sisters, The Virgin Suicides
Cecilia, Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese Lisbon make it onto the list not so much for being positive representations of sibling relationships, but for being fascinating to both the reader and their entire neighborhood, including the boys who serve as narrators. Though we never find out what exactly makes the family tick (even grief over the death of one girl and extreme Catholicism can’t properly explain the entire family becoming recluses), the sisters’ suicides seems like a group decision, a way for them all, together, to leave an untenable situation.
7.The Little Women
It doesn’t really matter which sister you identify with (but it was Jo, we were all Jo), Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel, along with the deep bonds of sisterhood found within it, have certainly stood the test of time. The relationships—and conflicts— between motherly Meg, tomboy Jo, shy Beth, and artist Amy served to show that as different as the four March sisters might be (and boy were they different) they could all put their own needs aside and rally for one another when things got tough.
6.Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel really didn’t have anyone else to turn to, so it’s a good thing they worked so well together. Proving once and for all that you really can’t trust adults in fairytales or children’s literature, the pair dealt with neglectful parents and homicidal witch with aplomb, and still got to eat as much candy as they could manage. Not a bad day’s work for two destitute orphans with only breadcrumbs to their name.
5.Katniss and Prim, The Hunger Games
Sure they don’t spend a whole lot of time interacting with one another, but you have to admire a sisterly bond that is so strong one sibling will literally volunteer to die for the other. That’s commitment. After their father’s death, Katniss, almost without complaint, began caring for Prim single-handedly. It may be hard for an older sibling to step in as a parent, but the hardships definitely toughened Katniss up, making her a deadly contender in the games and making sure that she’d survive long enough to be reunited with her sister.
4.Jane and Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
Most of Austen’s novels feature great pairs of siblings (Sense and Sensibility’s Elinor and Marianne Dashwood come to mind, as do Henry and Eleanor Tilney from Northanger Abbey), but it is Jane and Elizabeth’s relationship that stands above the rest. Sure, their other sisters are a little much to handle, but Jane and Elizabeth’s friendship is rock solid, and based on so much love and mutual respect that you know it will be a lifetime bond. Though they are opposites in almost every way, they’ll always be there to support one another, and it’s entirely fitting that they would end up marrying best friends, if only to keep each other in their lives.
[Yes of course we used the Egypt vacation photo because it's the WEASLEYEST PICTURE EVER —Ed.]
3.The Weasleys, the Harry Potter series
Can we all just agree that the Weasley family is the best family? Sure, there was Percy, but the strength and sheer awesomeness of the other siblings more than made up for him. You want an adventurous swashbuckler? Can I interest you in be-earringed cursebreaker Bill? Do your tastes veer more in the rugged and outdoorsy direction? How about some dragon-wrangler Charlie? Double-the-trouble jokesters? Have some Fred and George. No-nonsense Quidditch prodigy? Superstar Ginny might be more your speed. And let’s not forget super-loyal best friend material Ron. Can I be adopted already?
2.Scout and Jem, To Kill a Mockingbird
In Harper Lee’s beautiful 1960 novel, every tomboy saw herself in Scout, and Jem seemed like the big brother dreams were made of. Whether on the hunt for Boo Radley or learning about racial inequality in the 1930s Deep South, Scout and Jem are nearly inseparable and, together with best friend Dill, spend hazy summers concocting wild plans and avoiding rabid dogs. No matter what trouble Scout gets herself into, she knows that Jem will be there to help her out, and without fail, he always is.
1.Meg and Charles-Wallace Murry, the Time Quartet
Despite the mousy brown hair, glasses, and braces, Meg Murry was so much more than a placeholder for bookish girls everywhere. And when paired with her wunderkind empathic little brother Charles-Wallace, the two could take on anything that came their way. And what didn’t come their way? A father rescue mission to the faraway planet of Camazotz? Check. Meg traveling inside Charles-Wallace’s mitochondria to prevent him from ceasing to exist? Piece of cake. Traveling back in time to prevent a nuclear war? Been there, done that (quite literally). The two make a good team, and the tenderness Meg feels for her gentle baby brother doesn’t stop her from seeing his strength. (Twins Sandy and Dennys are cool too, I guess).
There’s certainly no shortage of interesting sibling relationships, and honorable mention goes to the sisters of King Lear, who would have been included if this was a list of worst siblings, and Laura and Mary Ingalls from the Little House on the Prairie series. The Chronicles of Narnia’s Pevensies would also make an appearance if Edmund wasn’t such a wart, and Sweet Valley High’s Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield might have been included if they weren’t so insufferable (feel free to yell at me in the comments, though, I know they have their following). Oh, and I suppose Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum could have been included, but they’ve never been favorites of mine and, well, this is my list. Let us know in the comments which characters I might have forgotten!