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Sookie Stackhouse was born 25 years before the series begins on May 24, 1983 to Corbett and Michelle Stackhouse in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She has a brother named Jason, who is three years older. At a young age, Sookie discovered that she was a telepath, which frightened her parents. Sookie was examined by mental health professionals, who misdiagnosed her with attention deficit disorder. Knowing that this was incorrect, Michelle refused to allow Sookie to be medicated. Instead, she and Corbett maintained an outward appearance of accepting the psychologists' assumption of Sookie being highly perceptive and observant.
When she was 7-years-old, Michelle and Corbett were murdered by the vampire Macklyn Warlow. According to Bud Dearborne -- the-then Sheriff of Renard Parish -- the cause of death was presumed to be drowning when their vehicle was found washed out during a flash flood. Because this event occurred before the Great Revelation, the bite marks found on the bodies were assumed to be caused by alligators. After their deaths, Sookie and Jason were both left in the care of their paternal grandmother Adele Stackhouse. During her childhood, Sookie was sexually molested by her grand-uncle Bartlett until she told her grandmother, and he was subsequently banished from their lives. Bartlett had also sexually abused Adele's daughter, Linda Stackhouse (Sookie's aunt, Corbett's sister) many years ago and, although she never left Bartlett alone around Linda again, she didn't take action until he did the same to Sookie.
Sookie found growing up difficult. Due to her telepathy, she had a hard time concentrating on her schoolwork, and many of her teachers determined her to be slow. Fellow students thought the same, which thus began her lifelong ostracism in her small town. Sookie's only friend was Tara Thornton, who was also considered an outcast for being poor and raised by a single, alcoholic mother.
As an adolescent and even into her mid-twenties, Sookie remained a social pariah in her small town. Her telepathy made it very difficult for her to form social and romantic relationships with people, who are uncomfortable with someone who can hear their thoughts, or appeared to be distracted by unheard voices. Through constant concentration, however, she trained herself to block out people's thoughts when she wants to. Prior to the start of the series, she never dated or had a boyfriend, as she could always hear her suitors' lurid thoughts about her.