Review by Mary Kat
- Rating: 😻😻😻😻😻 /5
- Recommend for: Those in the mood for a funny and deliciously dark read
Sisters, Killers, and The Trauma That Binds
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite is a deliciously dark and funny book that I devoured in less than a day. The book centers on two sisters — one beautiful and likely a sociopath, the other a clean-freak who is protective to a fault. We’re led through the story by Korede, the older sister and the one repeatedly drawn into cleaning up her sister’s messes (and now, her kills). Ayoola’s recent boyfriends have a 100% mortality rate, and although reluctant, Korede seems along for the ride. That is, until Ayoola sets her eyes on Korede’s crush.
SPOILERS AHEAD! Continue at your own risk.
All The Best
I found this book irresistible. The book itself is short, almost like a novella, and the tiny chapters (sometimes less than a page) make it even more fast-paced. The sisters are so distinct, and I was particularly drawn in by our narrator, Korede — a woman who considers herself always tidy and responsible. Ironic, of course, since her hands are now dirty with the blood of these murders, and she’s sacrificed her character in protecting her sister.
“She needs me more than I needed untainted hands.”My Sister, The Serial Killer
Best of all, the book is hilarious. I described the book as deliciously dark because the humor reads like a guilty pleasure with plenty of dark jokes at the expense of Ayoola’s (ex) boyfriends. These sisters are increasingly heartless, but always clever in their quips and take-downs.
One particularly fun part is Korede’s conversation with a comatose patient. As the man lies unconscious in the hospital bed, Korede confesses all her sister’s sins. She imagines a dialogue, complete with his hilarious responses, and I loved this reverie, as it gave us another peek into Korede’s conflicted mindset.
Although I loved this book overall, my single favorite aspect is the sister bond. I have two sisters, and the relationship here is remarkably realistic (minus the criminal melodrama, of course). The sisters are jealous and competitive with each other, but their closeness is never in question. Despite all the conflict, it’s clear that they love each other and have a bond unlike any others.
“I took a bold step forward and took Ayoola’s hand in my own. History had shown me that if you came within reach of the cane, the cane would not distinguish between victim and observer, but I had a feeling Ayoola would not survive the confrontation without me.”My Sister, The Serial Killer
The most interesting part of their bond is their shared traumatic history. Their father physically abused them for years, but the girls stayed close. That’s when the dynamic first began: Ayoola always in trouble and Korede always protecting. Both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, their father was also the first male to fall victim to the sisters.
There are interesting theories about how trauma can bind people — between spouses (helping to explain why a domestic violence victim might not leave their abuser) and between siblings (when at the hand of a common parental abuser, as in this case). This book shows the way trauma can bind people to the extreme. Tied together since childhood, their bond continues, even as Ayoola now becomes the abuser.
“He will kill us.” She sobbed.
“Not if we kill him first.”My Sister, The Serial Killer
My Sister, The Serial Killer is a fun, hilarious book that reads quickly, but also offers great insight on the relationships of sisters. Must-read: either for the fun plot or for the commentary on family relationships.
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is a tiny Gothic novel about two sisters living alone after the rest of their family was poisoned. The book is claustrophobic, mysterious, and impossible to forget.
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a great novel about a young Nigerian couple growing up outside their homeland and their experiences with cultural perceptions of race. Also an awesome romance.
Reading With A Side Of…
This pretty little green drink is called The Last Word (fitting to pair alongside a novel). Hits your lips with citrus and herbal notes, and it has a wholesome savory quality. Named for the last word of the evening, The Last Word is perfect as a cool nightcap.