nobody’s family is going to change

Listening to this had me thinking about all the adventures growing up in a family of…well…contrasting personalties. If you’ve experienced the love of sarcastic wit from any one of your brothers or sisters, you may find this episode to be interesting.

vintage family photo

Host Ira Glass describes a children’s book from the 1970s called Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change by Louise Fitzhugh, the author of Harriet the Spy. On the surface, it sounds like a rather menacing title for a kids’ book. But in fact, the story is about how kids can finally find peace if they stop hoping that their parents will ever be any different. The question is, though: is it true? Does anyone’s family ever change?

Act One. So a Jew, a Christian, and a Recording Crew Walk into This Bar.

Julia Pimsleur travels to Alaska to spend some time with her brother, hoping he might change a little—just as he hopes that she’ll change a little. She made a documentary film about her trip, from which the sound in this story comes, called Brother Born Again. (27 minutes)

Act Two. Matching Outfits Not Included.

What can happen if a sibling relationship doesn’t ever change. Hillary Frank brings us the story of two sisters, now in their seventies, who have preserved the same relationship they had as girls…for better or worse. (10 minutes)

Act Three. The Artist Formerly Known as Dr. Sarkin.

What happens when you want your dad to change—and he wants to change, too—but there’s literally nothing that can be done to change him. Jon Sarkin was a chiropractor with workaholic tendencies. Then in 1988, something changed in his brain, something his family is still getting used to. (14 minutes)

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