My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Published by Doubleday Books
Publication date: November 20, 2018
Genres: Debut, Fiction, Literary
Your Local Book Store, Amazon
Older sisters often look out for their younger siblings, but in the case of Korede it’s a bit extreme. Her younger sister Ayoola is the beautiful, sexy, creative one in the family, with her own clothing line and more suitors than she knows what to do with. Korede is a nurse at a major hospital—all responsibility and taking care of every problem. Except that Ayoola’s biggest problem is her dead boyfriends. When Oyinkan Braithwaite’s novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer opens, Ayoola has called Korede for the third time to dispose of a boyfriend’s body.
One reason My Sister, the Serial Killer makes for such good reading is that Braithwaite makes Ayoola’s ‘issues’ just one in Korede’s life that causes her agita. She’s also in love with a doctor at work, who has no idea of her feelings. Her attempts to keep her family life and professional life separate work until Ayoola decides the doctor is boyfriend material. Now, Korede’s stuck between family loyalty and keeping the man she loves out of what she knows to be a dangerous situation.
Murder aside, Braithwaite cleverly layers in the complicated issue of family dynamics to round out My Sister, the Serial Killer. Korede is strong and smart, but not considered pretty. Her parents have always favored Ayoola, as has virtually everyone who knows the two sisters. She epitomizes a lovely exterior with a rotten core—something Korede enables by never making Ayoola face the consequences of her actions.
If at this point you’re horrified, it’s understandable, but Braithwaite is so clever with how she handles the characters and situations in My Sister, the Serial Killer, that the novel is perfectly balanced. There is the absurdist nature of Korede’s determination to protect Ayoola (who is no victim), played against the very real tensions between the sisters. They’re bound tightly together, but why? And for how long will Korede continue to support her sister’s murderous behavior? Braithwaite asks and answers these questions creatively and with wry humor, making My Sister, the Serial Killer (a small novel) the quick antidote to the winter blahs.
Renee (Itsbooktalk) says
I found I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I thought I would based on the premise. You make some good points on the writing!
It was a total mood read for me. Saw it at the library and thought ‘why not?’ so I had no expectations.
Susie | Novel Visits says
Great review, Catherine. You have to admire a debut author who can make a book about a serial killer in a dysfunctional family so fun. I felt sorry for Korede, but not…you know what I mean?
Yes! That’s what makes it so great. She is the perfect aggrieved older sibling, but her sister kills men?
Allison | Mind Joggle says
Great review, Catherine! I’m waiting on an audio version of this from the library and am so looking forward to it! It’s hard to believe that a “serial killer” book can be humorous, but that it is makes it seem like a perfect book for listening.
I bet it will be great listening! The author does such a good job of juxtaposing the ordinary with the absurd.
The cover and premise kind of sold me on this one, so I got in line for the audiobook at the library. I don’t want to read your review yet, but came to see your rating and it will stay on the list!
It is right up our crooked little alley, not just for the macabre subject, but also for the way she layers it over the very really annoyance of younger siblings.
Ha. I’m all-in now.
[email protected] says
I’m on the list for this at the library. It seems like just the kind of “random” book I like.
It is exactly that! I just picked it up with no expectation beyond ‘that’s a funny title’ (in a sick way). It’s short so even if you don’t love it, it won’t take up much more than an afternoon.
The Cue Card says
Yeah I just finished the audio of this book and I’m still assessing what I thought …. but my gut tells me I feel a bit of everything about it. You feel sorry for her but you don’t …. some parts seem funny others not, it’s a tale of contradictions! It’s beguiling in many ways …. she seems to do anything to protect her sister / getting the janitor fired and everything else. It kept my interest.
It’s definitely the way she contrasts the banal with the outrageous. For every emotion she presents the counterpoint.