My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Published by Doubleday Books
Publication date: November 20, 2018
Genres: Debut, Fiction, Literary
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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.