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Edna’s Gift

How My Broken Sister Taught Me to Be Whole

When they were young, Susan and Edna, children of Holocaust refugee parents, were inseparable; Edna was Susan’s first love and constant companion. But as they grew up and Edna’s physical, and mental challenges altered the ways she could develop, a gulf formed between them. Susan’s life became even more complicated when, just short of her sixteenth birthday, she learned that she’d been born without a uterus and would never menstruate or give birth to children. As she coped with this trauma, Edna continued loving her unconditionally, as she always had.

In her adult years Edna lived a life of dignity in a spiritual community, becoming a model for how Susan could live hers. In her forties, Susan realized her dream of motherhood when she adopted a daughter. Throughout, Edna remained a teacher and loving presence in her sister’s life.

Encompassing Susan and Edna’s lifelong, complex, intertwining relationship, Edna’s Gift has a powerful message: life may be unpredictable, even traumatic—but if you remain open, strength and wisdom will come to you from surprising and unexpected sources.

Praise for Edna’s Gift

This astonishingly candid memoir explores a lifetime of memories, emotions, incidents, challenges and triumphs.   It’s a wonderful book.  I read it twice.”
—Emily Perl Kingsley, parent, Emmy-winning writer, author of “Welcome to Holland”

Edna’s Gift is the exquisite story of sisters caught in a lifelong struggle for healing and wholeness, buoyed by their undying love for one another, and faith in the power of family: to bring comfort in times of serious loss, and confidence when courage is needed most. It moved me profoundly, to laughter and tears, and deserves a place on your bookshelf alongside classic memoirs of sister love, including Elizabeth Lesser’s Marrow and Sheila Kohler’s Once We Were Sisters. I loved it.”
—Mark Matousek, author of The Boy He Left Behind and When You’re Falling, Dive 

It is only by truly accepting the ways in which we are broken that we human beings can grow. Edna’s grace and indomitable spirit in spite of her many challenges will inspire readers as it inspired her sister, Susan—and proves that our life’s greatest teacher often turns out to be the person we least expect. Rudnick’s lovely and moving memoir of her own journey toward fully embracing Edna—and herself—is a gift to us all.”
—Barbara Graham, New York Times bestselling author of Eye of My Heart

Two lives that forever intertwine will draw you in and keep you reading. Each is slightly broken but uniquely whole. As Susan says so aptly, ‘We can’t change the actual facts of our lives. Yet, like a kaleidoscope with the same number and kind of stones in it, with a flick of the wrist, we turn it ever so slightly, and the pattern rearranges itself and creates something new’ This book will stay with me for a long time.”
—Kay Berry, an administrator of MRKH Experiences, Advice and Support

Susan Rudnick’s Edna’s Gift is a sensitive and powerful memoir of a sister’s love for and devotion to  her developmentally disabled sister. When, as an adolescent, the author was diagnosed  with a rare medical condition, MRKH syndrome, Edna turned out to be a beacon of light in the darkness. For anyone intrigued by the process of transformation, Edna’s Gift is a source of inspiration.”
—Judith Ruskay Rabinor, PhD, psychologist and author of A Starving Madness and Befriending Your Ex After Divorce

Edna’s Gift is an honest, unwavering love story between two sisters—one of which has developmental delays. Rudnick’s writing had me hooked from the first page.”
—Linda Atwell, award-winning author of Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs

The relationship between “typical” and “special needs” siblings is complicated—often not reciprocal in the traditional sense and sometimes fraught with conflicting emotions, it can also bring unexpected riches. Susan Rudnick has given us an eloquently crafted exploration of how her life has been shaped by her sister.  The result is an honest, insightful and love-filled memoir.
—Theresa Sullivan, author of Mikey and Me: Life With My Exceptional Sister

Photos of Edna & Susan