One of my favorite aspects of YA fiction is the special touch authors use when writing sisters. Teen sisters have a built-in audience for their paths of self-discovery. Big sisters have someone to look out for and little sisters have someone to look up to. And whether a heroine loves her sisters or hates them, part of her character is always defined in relation to them. The relationship between sisters also shapes how they deal with their parents, their friends and even strangers. It is always interesting to watch the complex relationships between sisters unfold over the course of a YA novel.
After finishing Mockingjay, the last of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy — in which heroine Katniss’ actions are all motivated by her desire to protect her little sister — I wanted to continue my “sisters story” reading theme. I was pleasantly surprised when I took a chance on Zen & Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan (you can read the *Web Exclusive Review* of the novel here). Ryan’s latest novel was a deft exploration of the changes that Zen and Xander’s relationship undergoes as they grieve for their mother.