Samantha―the fashionable wife of a successful businessman and doting mother of one―struggles to negotiate the spheres of intimacy between her husband and her family of origin. Samantha loves her husband, Richard, and she loves her sister, Elizabeth. But the two of them can barely exist in the same room, which has caused the entire family years of emotional distress. Yet it’s not until Samantha’s sister is diagnosed at age forty-three with lung cancer that her family and her marriage are tipped into full-blown crisis.
A story of love, loss, forgiveness, learning to live with grief, and healing, Appearances will resonate with anyone who has ever experienced tension in their familial relationships―even as it serves as a poignant reminder that no amount of privilege can protect us from family conflicts, marital difficulty, or mortality.
Sondra Helene is a board member and writer at GrubStreet, Boston’s center for literary life. Her publications include “Jewish Magic Protected My Sister” in Lilith Magazine, “The Switch” in Voices of Caregiving: Stories of Courage, Comfort and Strength; and “Losing My Sister and the Long Road Back” on better50.com. She has studied fiction and nonfiction at GrubStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center, Gotham Writers Workshop, the Sirenland Writers Conference, and Kripalu. She is a graduate of Ithaca College and Columbia University. A past president of the Friends of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, she has also been involved with fund-raising for the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. Helene is a Life Member of Hadassah, a member of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and a former overseer of the Boston Ballet. She has two grown children and lives outside of Boston with her husband.