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Blood Sisters

“Billie Travalini’s Blood Sisters is a deeply moving book that explores the

essence of family and kinship and delves even deeper to the fundamental human yearning for a self, for an identity. This is one of those rare memoirs that not only shares the author’s life but truly opens the reader to his or her own.”

Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Good Scent

from a Strange Mountain



“Haunted by ‘man-sized shadows’, real and imagined, Betsy is pulled from the safety of Mama Cope’s home and thrust into the brutal, secretive world of her blood family. That house is ruled by a violent father who likes nothing more than to ‘ruin everything all at once’. With pathos and humour, Billie Travalini tracks an unflinching course through abuse, confusion and the power of sister-love. The narrative is as tense as it is compelling and, in Betsy, we have a bold-hearted and beautiful girl with a spirit as wide as America. In Blood Sisters, Miss Travalini achieves what all writers hope to achieve – using beautiful prose she leaves the stirred-up reader longing for more. A brave and generous triumph.”


Nuala Ní Chonchúir, author of The Closet of Savage Mementos and

Miss Emily

“Memoir holds an uneasy place among the genres. Done poorly, it is easily

dismissed as indulgent diary, but done well—and Blood Sisters does it well—the power of skillful memoir can shake a reader to his or her emotional core. Billie Travalini has accomplished that rare feat of joining extraordinary life experience with real-deal writing chops. The result is a stunning exploration of strength and sisterly love, rendered with the tension, suspense, and sure-handed prose of a classic novel. Great struggle doesn’t always deliver great art, but in the case of Blood Sisters, we can rejoice that it has.”


Tom Coyne, New York Times bestselling author of A Course Called


“Blood Sisters was already a deeply felt, original memoir when Billie Travalini began it at the Temple University graduate program in creative writing and it is even more powerful a story now. Her writing is stunning; her handling of the now familiar themes of incest and child abuse so graceful and haunting it's as if we have never read about these subjects before. Especially unique is the quality of solidarity among victims, a truth that too few writers have accessed.”


Joan Mellen, author of A Farewell to Justice and Blood in the Water:

How the US and Israel Conspired to Ambush the USS Liberty.


“Blood Sisters is both funny and profoundly sad at the same time. This

remarkable memoir shows how child abuse can happen almost in plain sight and how children suffer when those who can help choose to look the other way. For child welfare professionals Blood Sisters should serve as a reminder of our responsibilities. Children like Betsy are counting on us.”


Tim Brandau, Ph.D, Executive Director, Child, Inc.



No Place Like Here


“I love this collection for its contrasts and myriad textures; cold ocean and

tumultuous blooming; wildness and domesticity. It is so full of things: gulls and egrets; bees, crabs, cornfields; caskets, clapboard, sea glass, snow. Whether you read it from start to finish or wander randomly, you will feel the pull, the fierce, intimate, irresistible pull of place.”

Marisa de los Santos is a New York Times Best selling author of Belong to Me and I'll Be Your Blue Sky.


“In this extraordinary collection, Southern Delaware comes across as real and powerful as our own memories.”

Governor of Delaware Jack A. Markell (2009-2017)


On the Mason-Dixon Line: An Anthology of Contemporary

Delaware Writers

"The rich farrago of prose and poetry by Billie Travalini and Fleda Brown in this collection will belie any self-styled cosmopolite's thinking about 'Delaware.' For most, that small state may mean credit card companies' headquarters, and maybe DuPont. Otherwise, it's just some vague splotch on a map, not quite north and not quite south, as this book's title suggests. But On the Mason-Dixon brings forth such quality and, to use that much ballyhooed word, such 'diversity,' that this dismissive sort of thought (or non-thought, really), ought forever to evaporate."

Sydney Lea, poet, essayist, former editor of The New England Review

Teaching Troubled Youth: A Practical Pedagogical Approach



“Billie Travalini has done a remarkable job capturing and sharing the inner thoughts of a population of children often feared, forgotten, and misunderstood. These compelling stories, poems, and works of art serve as a powerful inspiration to educators and clinicians working with this population, as well as to parents and youth struggling in troubling situations. These collected works remind us that although the content of our personal dilemmas may differ, the underlying processes of finding meaning, connecting to others, and achieving peace in our lives offer a common link between readers and young authors. This book offers a message on the human condition that should not be ignored.”


Matthew J. Mauriello, Behavior Specialist Consultant, The Institute for Behavior Change



“This is an aspired collection of creative work by young people who have had bigger troubles than most of us. These are the children who aren’t supposed to be motivated, but if they are allowed to trust their instincts, if they are given a safe haven to write without being criticized, their words turn out to be surprising and lively. There is talent here, and honesty, and the two together are what all good writing is made of. Billie Travalini has done us all a favor to remind us of that.”


Fleda Brown, Poet Laureate of Delaware 2001 - 2007 

Wilmington Senior Center: Fifty Years of Community

"The heart of the book is Travalini's photographs and stories told to her by center participants...These stories are not all rosy, as several seniors, including Ruth Robinson and Easter McIver discuss the realities of life in Delaware for African Americans during the middle of the 20th century. 'I was in the north now - a young woman in her 20s, alone. And I didn't like what I saw. I especially didn't like that the moving picture houses...didn't let people of color didn't matter if we had money, or we were dressed nice or were extra polite, we couldn't get in. Period.'"

Victor Greto, Wilmington News Journal, November 12, 2006

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