My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite  

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The first time it happened, Korede was furious at him for making her sister Ayoola defend herself. But the third time her sister used her knife on one of her boyfriends? Now she’s a serial killer and Korede has grown tired of cleaning up her sister’s messes …

My Sister, the Serial Killer was one of the more unusual books I read this year. A story of blood bonds, familial obligation, and resentment spins into place as Korede helps cover up her beautiful little sister, Ayoola’s, third dead boyfriend. As a reader, we are constantly asked to consider how far one should go to save a loved one from themselves. Korede is a fairly plain, practical, unemotional woman and feels constantly compared to her vibrant, beautiful sister who always has a handful of men in pursuit of her hand in marriage. The complicated layer of resentment over their relationship doubles and triples throughout the novella as the murders and lies stack up, and it led me down an interesting hypothetical thought path.

The concept of how far would you go for family is fascinating; however, I didn’t really care about these two characters and therefore I didn’t care how far Korede would go to protect Ayoola or how much Ayoola would ruin Korede’s life before calling it quits. I wish each one could have been closer to center. By this, I mean I wish Korede would have taken action in improving her own life AT ALL rather than letting her sister walk all over it and I wish Ayoola would have been either more psychopathic or less completely oblivious and awful. For some reason, I couldn’t connect with either character and it really hindered me from getting fully into this novella.

Additionally, it was clear that the murderous tendencies of Ayoola stemmed directly from the violence and disrespect the sisters experienced at the hand of their abusive father as children. Ayoola’s murder weapon, her father’s old knife, held a lot of symbolism and played into the themes of repression, violence begetting violence, and the individuality of trauma. Considering the differences in how childhood abuse represented itself in Ayoola versus Korede lead me to enjoy the results of the book more than the book itself. This story would be a great book club book because there are a LOT of broad topics like this one to discuss and really dive into with a group.

The detached writing style created the tone one might expect of serial killer novel and I can appreciate the author’s creativity and ability to put this rather large idea into a short novel. I also appreciated the cultural aspect of Braithwaite’s novel. It was so nice to read outside my usual United States or European set novels and get a glimpse into Lagos, Nigeria. The setting gave the novel a lot of life. From the Lagos colloquialisms to the expectations on dating and marriage within the women’s community, I think the setting was much of what I enjoyed about the story. I’d happily try out something else of hers, but this book was a bit left of center for me.

Overall? Give it a try! A lot of you will enjoy this, probably more than I did, and even if you don’t it’s very short and leaves a reader with a lot to think on.

 

Thank you to Doubleday Books for sending me this review copy! All opinions are my own.

PUBLICATION DETAILS: DoubleDay; November 20, 2018; 240 pp; 978-0385544238; Literature -> Satire