In August 1968, Rosa and Esther Cohen march through downtown Detroit protesting the war in Vietnam. The march is peaceful, but when a bloodied teenager describes a battle with mounted police a few blocks away, the sisters hurry to offer assistance. Trying to stop the violence, they instead intensify it. An officer is seriously injured. Rosa and Esther are arrested and charged with conspiracy and attempted murder.
For Rosa, their arrest offers an opportunity to make a political statement, another way to protest an unacceptable war. Esther wants to avoid prison and stay home with her infant daughter, Molly; the only way to do that is to accept a plea bargain and testify against Rosa at trial. The consequences of these actions lead one sister underground and to prison, the other to leave town to bury her past in a new life. Molly grows up unaware of her family history until she meets Rosa’s daughter, her cousin Emma, at summer camp.
Told from multiple points of view and through the sisters’ never-mailed letters, and bracketed by the Vietnam and Iraq wars, HER SISTER’S TATTOO explores the thorny intersection of sibling loyalty and clashing political decisions.
Available for purchase here.
PRAISE AND RECOGNITION:
“Her Sister’s Tattoo is a story not just of two sisters but of our country, where politics have so often torn apart families, loved ones, and communities. This tenderly told novel brings humanity to all sides of struggle, lifting us with its grace, compassion, and hope for the future. I highly recommend.”—Rene Denfeld, author of The Child Finder
“The elegant restraint of Ellen Meeropol’s prose and the painstaking precision of her vision offer us discerning glimpses over decades and generations into the complexities of political engagement—its big questions and especially its intimacies. At a time when radical movements are on the rise, we find in Her Sister’s Tattoo exactly what we now need: both caution and hope.”—Angela Y. Davis, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, Santa Cruz
“Rarely has the political been more heartrendingly personal than it is in Her Sister’s Tattoo. Within the story of these incandescent sisters, Meeropol contains a lifetime’s worth of devastating choices and the remorse that inescapably follows. At a time when politics are again threatening to rip the American family apart, this might just be the novel we need.”—Andrew Foster Altschul, author of Lady Lazarus
“When their involvement at a Vietnam War protest escalates an already-violent situation, activist sisters Rosa and Esther must decide what lengths they will go to in support of their political convictions. Blood may be thicker than water, but in this family, politics may be thicker than blood. Her Sister’s Tattoo explores the shades of gray in a world that demands black-and-white perceptions, demonstrating that the lines we draw in the sand between what we are and are not capable of doing are ever-shifting under the weight of our complicated humanity.”—Emily Crowe, bookseller at An Unlikely Story
“Her Sister’s Tattoo is an honest and riveting portrait of anti-war activists and the price individuals and families pay for their actions, no matter how just. It is also a portrait of how lies and secrets can eat away again at both individuals and everyone in their families, particularly children. Meeropol evokes both the fear and exhilaration of protest.”—Marge Piercy, author of Woman on the Edge of Time
“A sensitive exploration of the excruciating dilemmas of seeking to end horrendous crimes while keeping to the principle ‘First, do no harm.’”—Noam Chomsky, Professor, University of Arizona, Emeritus Professor, MIT
Her Sister’s Tattoo is an honest and riveting portrait of anti-war activists and the price individuals and families pay for their actions, no matter how just. It is also a portrait of how lies and secrets can eat away again at both individuals and everyone in their families, particularly children. Meeropol evokes both the fear and exhilaration of protest.
—Marge Piercy, author of Woman on the Edge of Time
Author visits with Ellen Meeropol are available via NovelNetwork.com.