Apples & Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found
By Marie Brenner
288 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
At 3, Carl Brenner welcomed his baby sister into the world by tossing her out the window. The family joked that Carl gave Marie the gift of a hard head, an asset fully in evidence—along with her hungry heart—in her memoir, Apples & Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). More than any other book in recent memory, this one grabs the problem of sibling rivalry by the throat and shakes relentlessly. Carl is dying as the book begins, and Marie, now a celebrated reporter, has found her way back into his life, after decades of soul-bashing standoffs, using her investigative skills to probe the mysteries of his disease—and of their tormented relationship. She may never learn what drove her imperious, obsessive-compulsive, "charm-free" brother to give up a career as a trial lawyer to grow apples in Washington State; or what entrenched family dynamic doomed the siblings to reach for each other only across a "canyon of rage." But it is Marie's furious search for answers that gives this book its power, exposing the sweetness at the core of an embattled love.