Picks and Pans Review: The Sisters Antipodes

updated 03/30/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/30/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Jane Alison |

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It could only have happened during the free-love '60s: When Australian-born Jane Alison was 4, her diplomat dad and a friend's father switched places, and families, after falling in love with each other's wives. Amazingly, all four parents seemed to believe things would turn out fine. They didn't. In this wrenching, luminous memoir, Alison explores the incalculable damage done: the fraught, shifting alliances; her guilt as both dads apparently favored her over her doppelg├╝nger stepsister; the crippling shadow her childhood still casts. "Girls who grow up without fathers are so full of longing," a writing teacher tells her. Alison had two, but the longing has never died.

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