Barry’s Sister

Barry's SisterBarry’s Sister
By Lois Metzger

Read an Excerpt

Twelve-year-old Ellen’s loathing for her new baby brother Barry, who has cerebral palsy, gradually changes to a fierce, obsessive love, and she must find a proper balance for her life.

From the author:

This is my first novel, though I think of this book and the next one (Ellen’s Case) as one story that got split in two.

Barry’s Sister is about what it’s like to be the sibling of a handicapped child, which is an intense roller-coaster experience. I wanted the main character, Ellen Gray, to go through all its ups and downs with her brother, Barry, who has cerebral palsy.

My favorite character is Ellen’s Aunt Beryl, whose own unhappiness seals her off from compassion for anybody else. Thankfully, that is not true for Ellen. She goes through fierce periods of guilt and anger, but eventually finds a way to be Barry’s sister without losing herself.


Publishers Weekly Starred ReviewStarred ReviewPublisher’s Weekly:

Masterfully written and well-researched, Metzger’s first novel is an affecting portrayal of a girl’s reaction to a brother born with cerebral palsy…. this accomplished novel, which takes its protagonist through puberty, junior high, a quasi-crush and eventual maturity, deserves space on YA bookshelves.

Parents Magazine, Best Book of the Year:

With humor and great insight into the teenage mind, Metzger explores the fragile bonds that bind families, and the challenges that face all of us as we grow.

From The New Yorker Children’s Books Holiday Roundup:

“Barry’s Sister,” a first novel by Lois Metzger, is a thoroughly believable novel about what happens to junior-high-school-age Ellen Gray when her brother is born with cerebral palsy…. Metzger is adept at describing the rough-and-tumble of Ellen’s busy life in New York, and her vivid run-ins with her unlovable Aunt Beryl and her bitter, uncuddly grandmother. The writing is excellent.

From The New York Times Sunday Book Review:

While anyone with a disabled sibling will recognize the truth of “Barry’s Sister,” what moves Lois Metzger’s first novel beyond case history is the jaunty edge to the writing. You can’t pretend the sadness will go away, because it won’t. “So,” as one character says, “you learn to live with it. As if it were a plaid hat. You wear the silly thing.”… [Ellen] used to run from trouble, but now she has no illusions that things are easy. As she gets close to a friend and looks at her family as individuals, she accepts that everyone is “somewhat handicapped.” Her empathy is hard won.

From School Library Journal:

Metzger has woven what is almost an allegory on families of children born with physical disabilities…. What is particularly impressive about this book, however, is that they are all included in an effortless and natural way… [Ellen Gray] is a character that readers will take to their hearts, because her growing pains are universal.

From The Horn Book:

The author has packed a lot into her first novel. She explores with sensitivity and considerable knowledge the evolving dynamics of a family coping with a handicapped child… the characterizations are absorbing and credible, and the story is convincing in its evocation of a family in crisis.

From Booklist:

Not only does Metzger deal sensitively and accurately with the issues surrounding cerebral palsy, but she also provides insights into the complexities of family and peer relationships.

From Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington-Franklin-Essex-Hamilton-St. Lawrence-Lewis School Library Systems:

Highly recommended.

The author presents a realistic picture of the impact of a CP child on a family, complete with moments of drama and humor. This is not only a sensitive and informative treatment of life with a handicapped sibling, but also a briskly entertaining story.

From the Sibling Information Network Newsletter:

Barry’s Sister, written by Lois Metzger, is a wonderful book… Lois Metzger wrote this book from the heart.  She envelops the reader into the lives of this young girl and her family. As a reader you begin to feel what Ellen feels…. This is a must-read book for siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and professionals.