Guest blog post by Kayla Jennings-Rivera, Corporate Communications intern
During my internship at Scholastic, I tried to familiarize myself with some of our beloved books and authors, so I was so excited to read my first book by Raina Telgemeier, Sisters! As I was reading, many moments resonated with me, so I’d like to share some special moments with my sister.
Unlike Raina, I never asked for a sister. I was content with having all of my mom’s attention and my dolls all to myself. But when my mom was pregnant, I became very excited for a sister. I used to talk to her belly, telling her that I loved her and couldn’t wait to meet her. I was almost five when my sister, Julianna, was born. I remember being able to hold her in the hospital and feeling proud to have a real, live baby doll.
The reality of having a sister hit me hard when I was about 10. We were fighting for my mom’s attention, and Julianna and I no longer had much in common. Like Raina and Amara, we were sharing a room and always arguing over when to turn the lights or TV off. She was old enough to tattle on me and tell me when it was my turn to get off the computer. One time, Julianna pulled my hair to get me off the computer and I fell out of the chair. Even though I was double her size, I was terrified of her. She hit hard!
For the next few years, I didn’t feel like Julianna and I had much in common, and I preferred to be alone. I was in middle and high school focusing on my homework, extracurricular activities, and social life. Like Raina listening to music, I was always writing and in my own world. My sister was in competitive dance classes and interested in different things than me.
In Sisters, (spoiler alert!) Amara gets a chameleon that ends up dead the next morning. This part of the book hit close to home, too! Julianna wanted a pet, and my mom bought her a frog. The frog ate crickets, and I thought it was disgusting. I was so creeped out by it and wanted nothing to do with it. One day after school, I walked by the cage and saw the frog on its back with its tongue hanging out. It was dead! I didn’t know what to do so I called my mom and told her I was going to have a funeral for it. My friends and I buried it in the backyard but no one told Julianna that her frog died. Days later, she became a mess over her frog running away. She accused me of letting it out of the cage. It wasn’t until last year, that I clarified the death of her frog, but I don’t think she believes me.
It was also around this time when we would do a lot of things to make each other mad. One time, Julianna yelled, “Ow!” and got down on the ground. She told our mom that I hit her! Since Julianna is the baby, my mom always took her side. My grandma and mom used to pull the car over when Julianna and I would fight because we were so distracting. Like Raina’s mom, they just wanted us to sit still and get along.
Julianna and I didn’t become close until recently. When I moved away to college and we didn’t share a room or see each other often, we didn’t have much to fight about. When she entered middle school, I became protective over her and wanted to be involved in her education so I could help set her up for success. As she got older, we were about to talk about things that we had in common and do things together like go to concerts, go shopping, or listen to music together. While Raina and Amara made up after weeks in their mom’s van, Julianna and I become close over the distance between us.
Today, my sister and I have a strong relationship. My sister graduated high school in June and my mom didn’t even bother taking any photos because she knew I would document every minute. I even made my way to the front of the auditorium to get a photo of her accepting her diploma. This summer, we traveled to Madrid, Spain, together. If you would’ve told me ten years ago that we would be vacationing together, I would’ve called you crazy!
Sisters reminded me of the hard times that Julianna and I had to go through to become close. While things like age and interests set us apart growing up, over the years, those things ended up bringing us together. She is my sister and I can’t change that. We have been through good and bad times together, but there are certain things that only she can understand!