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Rise And Shine

Rise and Shine Anna Quindlen

Rise and Shine
by Anna Quindlen

Publisher: Random House 2006
Hardcover 269 Pages
1SBN-13: 978-0-375-50224-8

I loved this book and didn’t want it to end. It drew me in on many levels. Yes it was poignant, funny and entertaining with a tapestry of interesting supporting characters. However it was the relationship of the two sisters and the roles they played, that presented such an riveting study.

As a Marriage and Family therapist I’m always curious as to what makes relationships what they are and to what extent they are easy, hard or dysfunctional. When people accept roles they often do so at the expense of becoming a more whole person. One often hears about “the quiet one”, “the pleasers”, “the angry one”, “the go getter”, “the problem child” etc. As lives progress the labels attached in childhood continue to influence how the labeled one goes through life.

In Rise and Shine Meaghan due to family circumstances at the age of eight assumed a role of Bridget’s caretaker. Meaghan only four years older than Bridget was outgoing, bossy, willful, determined to do things her way. Bridget was easy going, adored Meaghan, a follower, cooperative and contented to be in her sisters long shadow. She accepted the role of “baby sister” who is less capable in the ways of the world. In this story, birth order was an important factor as well as Meaghans take charge personality in the roles they played. The roles they assumed were polarized that is more or less opposite and unbalanced. When this occurs neither person develops all of their potential. Bridget hid many of her strengths and talents to allow Meaghan to shine. Meaghan hid her softer side, her vulnerabilities to assure herself and Bridget she could handle what ever came her way.

Meaghan the ambitious one pushed for and attained worldly success and as a young woman became a multi million dollar high profile TV personality with all of the trappings. Bridget became a social worker, underpaid but is quite appreciated by her peers and the people she helps. As Meaghan and husband Evan go about making their individual fortunes, being picked up in black limos they wonder out loud why Bridget “settles” for so little.

One day after ten successful years, an open microphone exposed Meaghans view of somebody she was interviewing ripping into viewers living rooms. A life of glamour and glitter as Meaghan knew it came toppling down. With the world as she knew it in great upheaval the fragility that was always there under her mask/role of strength became quite evident.

Roles played out for years are stubborn and persistent. To change means contradicting all you have been showing the world to this point. Just like balancing on a see saw when Meaghans role shifted, Bridget’s no longer worked for her. Bridget was hesitant to step out fearing Meaghan would rebuff her efforts and her show of strength. She however took the risk and in the process they both left behind their one dimensional interactions. Bridget claimed more of her personal power that had always been there but hidden in order for Meaghan to shine. Meaghan on the other hand started allowing her vulnerability to show and allowed herself to be cared for.

In the process they surrendered the illusions that limited their relationship when they were mostly focusing on personalities. They each rose to the call to create a much deeper and more eqalaritarian relationship. They were being supportive of each other while attending to their own developing individuation.

There is much more in this book than first meets the eye. I highly recommend it.

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