Cover image for Sisterland
Newbery, Linda.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : David Fickling Books, 2004.

Physical Description:
369 pages ; 22 cm
When Hilly's grandmother becomes ill with Alzheimer's disease, her family is turned upside down by revelations from her life during World War II.
Reading Level:
770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.9 13.0 77349.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.5 21 Quiz: 41383.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When Hilly's grandmother becomes ill with Alzheimer's disease, her family is turned upside down by revelations from her life during World War II. Hilly's German grandmother, HeidiGran, comes to live with her family after she gets Alzheimer's disease. As her mind becomes more muddled, secrets buried in her past start to emerge. Why does HeidiGran keep talking about a girl named Rachel? And why does she make racist remarks about Hilly's friend, Ruben? As Hilly struggles to cope with revelations about her family's past, she encounters racism and prejudice for herself when a friend becomes the victim of a mindless attack. This evocative and deftly told novel explores prejudice and its effects on multiple generations in one family. From the Hardcover edition.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-12. There's enough for 10 YA novels in this long, powerful story of love, anger, racism, loss, and guilt across generations, which takes place in Britain, Germany, and the Middle East. At the center is Hilly, a contemporary British teen who is in love with a Palestinian. Hilly's sister, Zoe, is dating a young man in a neo-Nazi punk group, and the girls' bitchy talk adds humor to the haunting narrative. Then there's the shocking discovery of Dad's infidelity. Hilly's grandmother, Heidigran, also hides secrets, and now that she has Alzheimer's, she's haunted by the past and her guilt about someone called Rachel. Who is Rachel? Why does Heidigran hate theews? And what's the connection with Sarah, a bewilderedewish child who arrives on the indertransport? The time and character switches are initially confusing, but the mystery drives the plot, bringing the political history close to home without slick parallels between the Holocaust horror and prejudice now. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

When Hilly's grandmother comes to live with her family, Hilly must come to terms with such big topics as disease, racism, adultery and the lasting effects of WWII. "The sheer abundance of plots and subplots keeps the pages turning," wrote PW. Ages 12-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Hilly, an English teenager, has a lot to contend with in this lengthy novel. Heidigran, her senile grandmother, has come to live with her family; her friend Reuben has become involved in a relationship and she is jealous; and she discovers that her father has had an extramarital affair and that her younger sister Zo' is having a fling with a skinhead. Then the plot thickens. Heidigran is increasingly confused about her own identity and that of others in the household. Reuben's Palestinian boyfriend, Saeed, is badly beaten in a bias incident and Hilly is afraid that her sister's friends are at fault. Next, Hilly meets Saeed's brother, and falls in love with him, but when her family realizes that Heidigran has been repressing all memories that she was a Jewish child who came to England in the Kindertransports from Nazi Germany, Hilly's newly revealed ethnic background threatens to sabotage the budding relationship. All this and more is presented in a text that flips around in time, fluctuating from Hilly's point of view to her grandmother's and back again. Such a combination of complex issues is undeniably ambitious. Themes of fidelity to family, religion, marriage, sexual orientation, country, friends, and lovers are all touched upon. Unfortunately, many of the plot elements get short shrift and the book as a whole seems to sink under its own weight.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.