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Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found

2.86  ·  Rating details ·  345 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
To be sure, some brothers and sisters have relationships that are easy. But oh, some relationships can be fraught. Confusing, too: How can two people share the same parents and turn out to be entirely different?

Marie Brenner's brother, Carl—yin to her yang, red state to her blue state—lived in Texas and in the apple country of Washington state, cultivating his orchards, po
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Rating details
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Sep 09, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Maybe it's because I have been coming down with a cold or something, but I literally did not understand this book. I felt like I was reading something in another language. I kept checking the pages I had just read to see if they were in any way related to the page I was currently reading; often they were not. I just felt completely lost--she jumps around in time and space, often within the same page, and it seems like she is assuming some knowledge on our part that she never bothered to impart i ...more
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melissa by: New York Times Book Review
I really want to love this book, but the more I read, the less I do. The subject was irresistable to me when I read the review in tht NYT: it's about a brother and sister who are very different but somehow find commonality when the brother finds out he's dying. It is also a memoir which I am a complete sucker for. Unfortunately (and maybe I am just not sophisticated enough to appreciate it), her completely non-linear style leaves me really frusterated. She writes a lot about her family history a ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Brenner clearly uses this memoir as a chance to find some path through the conflicted relationship she's had with her older brother for decades. She contextualizes their relationship within the larger framework of many generations of Brenners, looking for family traits that persist into her and her brother's personalities. Even though she and her brother fight constantly, they talk regularly and visit regularly, betraying an affection beneath the nonstop bickering.

I found myself chiding her for
Why do people write memoirs? I guess it's to help them feel better about themselves. This one just irritated me. It was all about Marie and no one else. Where does it say that siblings have to get along or even like each other? Why can't people be happy with who they are and let others be happy with who they are. We so often want people change to what we think they should be to be a better person. This book was only read because much of it takes place in Wenatchee WA where I live and my book clu ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a memoir of sorts. Based on the title and some vague commentary throughout the book I'm guessing what it was supposed to be about was the relationship between the author and her brother. It wasn't really. Yes they both appeared in the book and their somewhat peculiar relationship both strained and cold yet oddly close in that they were in constant contact was referred to, but I really never got a real sense of their relationship. I didn't necessarily feel like it was the focus of t ...more
May 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't finish it. Felt absolutely uninspired. I was so sad, because I wanted it to be good! I thought it would be an exploration of relationships between brothers and sisters, and the NYTimes review made me believe I would love it. But I couldn't get past the dozens of identical lists of apples and Mexican artists...if she said jongold or Diego Rivera one more time I was gonna crack! It was all over the place and maybe I didn't give it enough time to sort itself out, but then, why should I? The ...more
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
One of those books that I had to force myself to finish. The book is about the tumultuous relationship between the author and her brother and how they became "closer" through her brother getting diagnosed with cancer. Confusing at parts because the author jumps all over the place in regards to dates, events, etc. and makes many references to people, places, pop culture that I've never heard of before. It may have been insightful for the author to write this "memoir," but I don't think it needed ...more
Oct 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
I actually decided to quit reading this one because I just couldn't get into it. I was really excited to read it because I thought it would be really interesting, but it was just too choppy and inconsistent. It's a memoir of the author's relationship with her older brother, especially when he finds out he has terminal cancer. They never really got along, but once he got sick she wanted to make the effort to reconnect. Her story just jumps all over the place and was hard to follow. I wouldn't rec ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Meh. I didn't enjoy the lack of direct narrative, and I didn't find the mixture of family history and current events to be compelling. I like a memoir with more chronological coherence (or more clear loops). And I didn't quite understand the relationship as it unfolded, either.
It was okay. I was really frustrated with Brenner's writing style for the first third, but then she settled down, and the book got better. I think she tried to have too much Meaning and not enough Memoir. But I'm sure some people will like it.
Lisa Smith
it took me forevvvvvver to finish this book, i just really couldn't get into it. i don't know if it was the specific subject or her style of writing, but no, it wasn't for me!
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this more but just couldn't. I found myself skimming pages and wanting to get it over with. Too bad. I was really hoping for a good read with this one.
RH Walters
Nov 08, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sampled
81 pages in and I couldn't stop thinking of the other books I have to read. Meh.
Kim V
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It started when Cain slew his brother Abel. Ever since these Biblical brothers duked it out, siblings throughout the ages have been at war with each other. Of course, not every sibling relationship is one of rivalry. There are countless siblings who are hand-in-glove simpatico. Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found by Marie Brenner, however, is not a symbiotic sibling love letter, but rather a détente treaty.

“Apples and oranges” is how their mother described them. On the surface,
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with grown siblings
Recommended to Leigh by: Entertainment Weekly
Carl Brenner is dying from cancer. His sister Marie, the author of this book, drops everything in her life to come be by his side in his final months. It seems like the action of a close, loving family member, but the truth is that Carl and Marie have always disliked one another. This is the story of these two grown children trying desperately to repair their broken relationship and come to understand each other before it's too late.

The book is beautifully written. One gets engrossed in the stor
May 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, & others
Wow! This one's a keeper!!
It's been getting some awesome reviews, so I came at it w/ pretty high hopes. Happily, A's & O's lived up to--even exceeded--all this hype.

Brenner is a professional journalist. So her prose can be powerfully clear, succinct, concise. But what's especially cool about this memoir is how she appears (more transparently) as a character as well as a participant-observer in this engrossing narrative.

One of the haunting mantras or refrains of Brenner's life (& her rela
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I had been browsing through to find any books with my hometown, Wenatchee, WA in the title and this book was one of them. It's primarily about the brother-sister relationship and how difficult it can be. At least it was difficult for this brother and sister. The sister, author of the book, was a published author living in Manhattan, and her brother had moved to Washington State and was growing apples and pears (one of the major industries here).

The author made some pilgrimages from NY
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marie Brenner has written a memoir about her confusing and strained relationship with her brother, Carl. He is as conservative as she is liberal. He is a former lawyer turned apple farmer, she is a big city investigative journalist. All their lives they have been 'at each other's throats'. Neither understanding the other. It was just easier to live apart.

When Carl, Marie's brother, is diagnosed with cancer Marie drops everything; her job, her friends and her husband to try to help and bond with
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comming from a family of 4 siblings I am always interested in these types of books.
The author is trying to come to terms with the vast differences between her and her brothers personalities, the reasons why they are so different and trying to reach the point where they can peacefully co-exist.
I did dog ear a couple of pages that stood out, on one page she and her brother are in the same hotel, she states that she is "as alone as she has ever been" and "there is no way she can share that with h
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't warm to this book. As far as memoirs go, it really didn't work for me, and I found that frustrating. I thought that the best parts of the book were those that involved Marie Brenner's reporting skills, such as relating the complicated histories of preceding generations of her family and discussions of apple farming. I felt that she was too close to her own story in trying to sort out her always-prickly relationship with her dying brother Carl, and I didn't really feel that I gain ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books I picked up off the "new books" shelves at the library because I liked the cover. It's a memoir, sort of, more of an exploration of the author's relationship with her brother taken through his cancer, her career, family history, and his apple orchards.

It took awhile for me to get into the book, but once I did I quite enjoyed it. The writing has a stream of consciousness style to it, although since she is a journalist I'm sure it's all very intentional and edited.

Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perplexing - that is what Marie Brenner calls her brother, Carl. And that's exactly what this book is. It is a frustrating, annoying book. It's not a memoir. It's a mess. Of a sibling relationship filled with boasting, bitterness and boring moments. Maybe that was their real relationship, but people read to learn something and find the courage to live their own lives. This book did not provide that. It made me want to scream, "Stay away from each other!" and I doubt that is what the author inten ...more
Jul 17, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kristina by: NY Times
The complicated relationship between Marie and her brother Carl is put on display with extensive details about their predecessors' family angst. Her casual voice in telling the story made it a very fast read and very enjoyable. Being from San Antonio, I especially enjoyed the details about living in San Antonio and the descriptions of Central Market are dead-on.

There were a few things that I wanted to know that were not included in the story: 1) what happened to the Solo Serve stores? 2) exactl
I enjoyed this book which I read thanks to a New York
Times review and an interest in sibling relationships. I
appreciated Marie Brenner's honesty in describing a less than successful relationship and her own contribution to
making it that way. She is a smooth, readable writer and
though the story is not told chronolgically, I had no trouble following it and understood how events made her recall the past.
Because I live in Washington state and have visited the
apple country in Eastern Washingt
Jun 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I decided to read this after reading an NYT review, and I'm very glad I did.

This book is as good an account of sibling relationships as I've ever read. As an oldest child, it was very illuminating to read such an eloquent outline of family dynamics from the perspective of a younger child -- at times I found myself whole-heartedly identifying with the author's older brother, Carl, and at other times his actions made me wince -- a bit too close to home, maybe.

Besides the emotional whirlwind surrou
May 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Sibling relationships have always fascinated me. In Apples and Oranges, Marie Brenner does a fine job of deconstructing her fraught relationship with her brother Carl (a successful lawyer and self-styled adventurer from Texas turned Washingont State apple-farmer), focusing on the time she spent with him as he battled cancer. She also explores her family (immediate and extended), in an effort to understand a clan of "brainy squabblers that had ended their time together in silence and separation." ...more
Anne Van
This is an interesting mid-life memoir about the writer's brother and herself. As a successful feature magazine writer, it's well researched and well written. She pulls together memories, family archives, psychology studies about siblings, and goes on a personal journey to explore why they have never gotten along as adults (at the same time as helping him find treatments for his terminal cancer). What she finds changes the emotional relationship for her (key point - accept him for what he is), a ...more
May 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of two siblings--Marie Brenner,a sophisticated New York journalist,and her brother Carl, an apple farmer in Wenatchee, WA. No two people could be less similar. When Carl is diagnosed with cancer, Marie leaves her home for weeks at a time to be with him in a desperate attempt to reconnect and also to heal the fractures in their relationship. I appreciated her intense honesty about her feelings and her frustrations with Carl. The story seemed a little disjointed to me with freque ...more
Chris Antenen
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I learned a lot about Apples! Have discovered Ambrosia - delicious. The book authenticated my view that chasing cures for incurable cancer is most often a fruitless (sorry about the really bad pun) effort. Some can benefit, others prefer to savor the time away from hospitals. Understanding her brother, written in the first person, but wandering all over place and time elements - one had the feeling of 'where the heck am I now?' and a desire for some continuity of thought. Perhaps that was the au ...more
I’m glad I read this book. It is the story of Marie Brenner and her brother Carl. They are very different from one another and have what appears from the outside to be a contentious relationship. Her brother, a lawyer, who ends up running an apple orchard out west - is a very volatile guy (at least in his relationship with his sister). The book appears to be written because he gets cancer and they end up spending a lot of time together. It gives me insight into people and people’s lives that I m ...more
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