My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer

A Novel

Book - 2018 | First edition.
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"Pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan...This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember." --NEW YORK TIMES

"The wittiest and most fun murder party you've ever been invited to." --MARIE CLAIRE

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 WOMEN'S PRIZE

A short, darkly funny, hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends

"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite's deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385544238
0385544235
9780525564201
0525564209
Branch Call Number: Fic
Characteristics: 226 pages ; 20 cm

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a
awilson1569
May 15, 2019

It was a really great read but super disappointed in the ending! Don't read unless you have nothing else to do.

d
deekind1
May 06, 2019

This was a fun, quick read but something was off and missing in this book.

a
azuki
Apr 28, 2019

A quick, irresistible read that satisfies, no matter how deeply you want to think about it. Written as a series of vignettes, the book can easily be read in a single day -- a delicious, confidently-written story to devour right away, or to savor long after its done.

For me, the questions that surface in Oyinkan Braithwaite's debut novel in the context of survivorship and trauma (these themes emerge early on; content warning for explicit scenes of domestic violence and implied threats of sexual assault). How do violent experiences shape the way we understand safety? What does protecting the people we love require of us? Do we have any responsibility for the cultural prescriptions and societal value that others place on us?

Braithwaite's characters, Korede and Ayoola, don't exactly answer these questions... nor do they explicitly ask them. But for most of us reading this hilariously sinister book in the #MeToo era, it's hard to miss the internal conflicts that plague Korede and Ayoola (well, maybe one sister more than the other). After Ayoola murders her third boyfriend, she claims to have acted in self-defense of a violent attack (not unlike the circumstances of her two previous homicides). Is Korede wrong to doubt her sister's account? Does the author lend credibility to the harmful trope of "false accusations" by having Ayoola repeatedly name self-defense as her motivation to kill? Sadly, what makes this story so starkly satirical is that -- despite Ayoola's increasingly untrustworthy behavior -- her repeated claims of dating violence are never completely implausible. As the sisters learn from their physically and emotionally abusive father, men's socially-sanctioned brutality seldom provokes as much justification or intervention as Korede attempts with Ayoola.

What gave me the most pause in MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER is how Ayoola seems to manipulate Tade (the coworker Korede pines for and Ayoola takes up as her latest boyfriend) into distrusting Korede -- ostensibly, to ensure that Tade ignores any of Korede's warnings. On several occasions, Tade chastises Korede, based on Ayoola's version of their relationship.

Korede, understandably, is infuriated by these characterizations. Following this story from her point of view, we see Korede show up over and over again to clean up Ayoola's messes -- we might even relate to her indignation at being taken from granted by an ungrateful sibling. "I've never held Ayoola back; if anything, I've given her a future", Korede fumes.

But what future does Korede set Ayoola up for? From the very beginning of the book, it's apparent that Ayoola carefully tracks Korede's face for frustration, exasperation, and disapproval; Korede's assessments matter, and she certainly has them. Though Korede always backs her sister up in the end, readers understand just how critical and resentful Korede actually feels -- clearly, Ayoola knows, too. Perhaps Ayoola can sense what her sister is unable to admit: that Korede takes pride in her meticulous work ethic, including the way she fixes Ayoola's disasters. That Korede's efforts take an emotional toll oscillates between being a burden and a badge of honor.

So... is Ayoola's description of Korede based on her genuine experience, or is it a calculated attempt to influence Tade? The author leaves this for the reader to determine. Tade's reluctance to heed Korede's warnings is as likely to be because of Ayoola's conniving, as it is his own unwillingness to see Ayoola beyond his idealized version of her. For those of us (including me) who first assume that Ayoola is responsible for Tade's distrust in Korede... isn't Tade responsible for his own assessments? Isn't it he who chooses to dismiss a long-time colleague over a person whose positive attributes he can scarcely identify? Braithwaite reveals just how insidious our own gendered assumptions are, without ever brandishing an evangelical word. What a cool book.

ReadingAdviser_Sally Apr 27, 2019

I really, really liked this novel! Super original and I loved how it made me doubt my own morals and really put me in the characters frame of mind. I would love to read more like this. While dark in nature this is a darkly comic take on the serial killer.

Beaverton_JennieC Apr 25, 2019

This unassuming little novel packs quite the punch. I'm not usually drawn to books about serial killers, but the premise of this one was too intriguing to pass up. Sisters Korede and Ayoola are close--so close in fact, that Korede, as the oldest, finds herself helping her younger sister clean up and cover up the mounting number of murders Ayoola is committing against the men she dates. As the body count grows, so, too, does Korede's concern and bitterness about their shared secret. If you like dark comedies and unlikely characters, this short read is for you.

g
ghostwthemost
Apr 24, 2019

A very dark, very clever, very lonely read, but worth every bit of despair you get from it. I was hooked from the first chapter!

c
ColoReader
Apr 21, 2019

I liked it. Clever and dark.

JCLHeatherC Apr 08, 2019

I'm not sure what to think of this one. I mean, one sister is indeed a serial killer and the other is helping to clean up the mess. Literally. I guess I was expecting there to be at least a little bit of 'will they get away with it?' and that was never the intent of the author it seems.

e
ellenorndorf
Apr 07, 2019

What we do for family.

g
geordie18
Apr 06, 2019

I was not sure what to expect from this book. The title and cover were off putting, but the book turned out to be fast paced and definitely darkly, humourous.

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ReadingAdviser_Sally Apr 26, 2019

He once told me you had to feed the cow before you slaughter it; it was the way of life.

ReadingAdviser_Sally Apr 26, 2019

I would be more at ease if the Joker were to smile at me.

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