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Siblings Reviewed

The Anthropocene ReviewedThe Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review written on 23rd May 2021

This review is inspired by the format of the podcast/book The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green.

I woke up this morning feeling highly irritable. I was agitated as I hoovered the living room and showered. I was frustrated by misplaced laundry and the imminent Zoom church service I was due to attend.

Right before joining the service, I declared my mental state to my family: “I am feeling irritable this morning.” I then voiced a few complaints I had about Zoom church services, and said I was fed up and would join the service when the sermon started. My sister then challenged me, telling me to “stop being such a drag.” We both admitted to feeling irritable this morning and clashed over it.

Little did we know that our mum had already joined the Zoom link but had left her mic unmuted – the whole congregation had heard our argument.

I froze. That was the last straw for me. I went upstairs and lay in my bed. I felt embarrassed and utterly humiliated. I spent the next 15 minutes ruminating, falling deeper and deeper into a shame spiral. But as I lay there, I heard my sister singing along to the worship songs downstairs.

How was she so calm about what had just happened?

Reluctantly, I went back downstairs and joined. After the service I asked her how she could be so relaxed about the fact that the whole church had just heard the two of us arguing. In response, she asked me if I remembered that one guy at church who left his mic unmuted a couple weeks ago and started singing in a ridiculous high-pitched voice during the sermon. Yes, that was hilarious, I said. Had I thought about it at all in the weeks since that had happened, she asked. No. Not once. She said that when other people embarrass themselves we judge them for a second, but then move on. Everyone moved on, she said. No-one remembers him embarrassing himself anymore. Equally, no-one cares about you embarrassing yourself, she said. Gently, reassuringly, she brought me back to reality.

Paradoxically, having a heated argument with my sister and then sharing those feelings of shame with her led to a deeper intimacy between us. It brought us closer together.

After we’d both cooled down, I read my sister a passage from The Anthropocene Reviewed that sums up our relationship well:

“… I called my brother, Hank, and told him I was feeling frightened. Hank is the levelheaded one, the sane one, the calm one. He always has been. We have never let the fact of my being older get in the way of Hank being the wise older brother.”

My sister is the levelheaded one, the sane one, the calm one. She always has been. We have never let the fact of my being older get in the way of her being the wise older sister.

I give siblings five stars.


Needless to say, I also give The Anthropocene Reviewed five stars.

View all my reviews

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