You Were Always Mom's Favorite!

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2010-09-07
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
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Conversations between sisters reveal a deep and constant tug between two dynamics—an impulse toward closeness and an impulse toward competition. It takes just a word from your sister to start you laughing, or to summon up a past you both share. But it also takes just a word to send you into an emotional tailspin. For many women, a sister is both a devoted friend and a fierce rival.

Wise and witty, You Were Always Mom’s Favorite! will leave you with a profound new understanding of the unique and precious sister bond, as well as provide practical advice that will open up communication, dispel tensions, and make a vital connection even stronger, deeper, and more resilient.

“Siblings will jump on this book to read about pigeonholing . . . power dynamics . . . and the coded messages, fond or furious, that only the person who knows you best will understand.”-O: The Oprah Magazine

“If you have a sister, you will probably recognize every detail and laugh or cry.”-The Daily Beast

Tannen’s very talented ear allows her to see inside our most intense relationships using the windows of our words.”-Baltimore Sun

“Love/hate doesn’t begin to describe the elation and heartbreak, the humor and perplexed contradictions revealed in this delightful book when sisters speak of and to each other.”-The Philadelphia Inquirer

Author Biography

Deborah Tannen is the acclaimed author of You Just Don’t Understand, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly four years including eight months as #1; the ten-week New York Times bestseller You’re Wearing THAT?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation; I Only Say This Because I Love You: Talking to Your Parents, Partner, Sibs and Kids When You’re All Adults, which won the Books for a Better Life Award; Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work; That’s Not What I Meant!; and many other books. A professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, she has written for and been featured in newspapers and magazines such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. She appears frequently on TV and radio, including such shows as 20/20, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Colbert Report, Nightline, Today, Good Morning America, and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She is university professor and professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, and has been McGraw Distinguished Lecturer at Princeton University. She lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., area.

From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 3
Sisters in Lifelong Conversationp. 7
"We're Close but We're Different": Compare and Contrastp. 32
Looking Up and Talking Down: Competition and the Array of Agep. 57
Whose Side Are You On?: Understanding Alignmentp. 80
"I'll Be the Princess, You Be the Frog": Younger Sister: The View from the Frogp. 105
Gateway to the World: Older Sister: The View from the Gatep. 128
It's All Talk: Sisterspeak and Genderlectp. 156
Sisterness: The Good, the Bad, and How to Get More of the Lovelyp. 180
Epiloguep. 205
Acknowledgementsp. 209
Author's Notep. 213
Notesp. 217
Referencesp. 223
Indexp. 227
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Chapter One

Sisters in Lifelong Conversation 

“I love her to death. I can’t imagine life without her,” a woman says of her sister. Another says of hers, “I want to be around her all the time. She’s the only one who knows all kinds of stuff from the past. All we have to do is say one word, and we know when the other one will start laughing.” I heard many comments like these from women who told me that their relationships with their sisters are among the most precious aspects of their lives. 

I also heard comments like this one: “I don’t want anyone to kill my sister because I want to have the privilege of doing that myself.” 

Though they sound so different, these remarks have something in common: the intensity of feelings behind them. Sister relationships are among the most passionate of our lives. One woman explained, “My relationship with my sister is more deeply emotional than any other.” Yet another, after telling me ways her sister had hurt her— tales of betrayal that made me wonder why she still talks to the perpetrator at all— said, “No matter how difficult my sister is, she is still part of me, part of my past, my present, and my future.” Then she added, echoing the comment I quoted at the start: “Love her or hate her, I can’t imagine life without her.” Conversations with sisters can spark extremes of anger or extremes of love. Everything said between sisters carries meaning not only from what was just said but from all the conversations that came before— and “before” can span a lifetime. The layers of meaning combine profound connection with equally profound competition. Both the competition and the connection are complicated by inevitable comparison with someone whose life has been so similar to yours and yet so different— and always in your view. 

What’s Ideal, What’s Real? 

I was chatting with four women at a party. As we talked, we gradually sat down, then drew our chairs into a circle. The other party guests looked on with curiosity or envy as our tight little group erupted in laughter or rippled with a wave of knowing nods. I had brought up the topic of sisters. 

Laxmi, a woman visiting from India, was extolling hers. “When we meet we can’t get enough of each other,” she said. “When we ride in a car together, my husband threatens, ‘I’m taking another car! You two never stop talking and laughing!’ She’s my lifeline. I’m her lifeline. If I say one word, she knows what I’m going to say. We’ve made a pact that we’ll take a vacation together at least once a year.” Another woman in our group remarked sadly, “That’s why I always wished I had a sister.” I wanted to learn more about this wonderful sister relationship, so before the party ended I arranged to interview Laxmi one on one. 

The following week, Laxmi and I sat down in private. The first thing she told me was that she had recently gone through a year during which she refused to speak to her sister. When their parents died, she explained, she and her sister had together inherited a building composed of two apartments; each sister owned one. Laxmi wanted to sell her apartment, but she realized that the value of her sister’s would go down if she sold hers separately; they would both get a better price if they put the entire building on the market. But her sister wasn’t ready to sell, so Laxmi tabled the idea and went away for an extended visit to her daughter, who lived abroad. When she returned, she disc

Excerpted from You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: Sisters in Conversation Throughout Their Lives by Deborah Tannen
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My sisters, myself May 6, 2011
This truly is the bible for understanding sisters. I enjoyed it so much that I purchased 3 copies to share with my sisters. Well written and a easy to read textbook.
Thanks this cheap textbook touched my life!
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You Were Always Mom's Favorite!: 5 out of 5 stars based on 1 user reviews.

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