All-of-a-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor, wasn’t so much read as lived. It’s a nostalgic book, but little kids are susceptible to nostalgia. Like the all-of-a-kind sisters themselves, I wasn’t able to buy books but instead borrowed them from the library. Somehow we happened to own this book. I read it an uncountable number of times, so that the various incidents— especially the crisis of Sarah’s losing the library book—seem almost, still to this day, like chapters from my own life. I felt close to each of these five sisters, though Sarah, shy and a little lost in the world, was my soulmate. The story of the library lady and Charlie formed my first notion of tragic romance, until they were replaced, several years later, by a certain Jane and her Mr. Rochester.
Rebecca Goldstein is the author of several books, including The Mind/Body Problem and, most recently, Mazel (Viking). She is a 1996 MacArthur Foundation Fellow.