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Staff Book Review: Brother & Sister: A Memoir by Diane Keaton

In the last chapter of actress Diane Keaton’s new memoir, Brother & Sister, Keaton laments, “I want to have another chance at being a better sister.” The sibling Keaton is alluding to is her brother, Randy Hall. Doted on by his idealizing mother, not living up to the expectations of his hard-driven father, and dealing with inexplicable inner demons, Hall lives a troubled life, which Keaton highlights in her short book.

At times detached from her family while working, Keaton draws from her own memories, her sister’s recollections and correspondences, and her mother’s letters, snapshots, and diaries to weave a tale of Hall’s struggles. From a child afraid of “ghosts lurking in the shadows” to a young man who turns to drawing, writing poetry, and making collages, followed by more destructive means of coping, Hall tries to make his way in a world that he never fully feels comfortable—or comfort—in. Now in his seventies and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Hall’s behavior still reflects a life, as Keaton puts it, “composed of hundreds of clues, often leading nowhere.”

Not just about Hall, Brother & Sister also explores the regrets and responsibilities a family bears when one member has a detachment from reality, as well as the different lives people born into the same family can lead.

Keaton’s memoir, which begins when the author is a happy firstborn child in the Hall family of Southern California, is now available to reserve from Herrick Library and pick up during curbside hours.

(To reserve, go to the online catalog, send an email to info@herricklibrary.org, or call 619-825-5010.)

Reviewed by Rosemarie Leenerts, Library Assistant

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