"Femi makes three you know. Three, and they label you a serial killer."
For our next buddy read, Melody and I chose My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. It's set in Lagos, Nigeria, and centers around two sisters: Ayoola and Korede. Korede is the older sister, and the narrator of the story. She's a nurse; she's also the responsible, careful and controlled one who knows how to clean up after her sister's messes. Even when those messes involve blood and a dead body. I had a lot of empathy for her. I also felt a bit impatient with her at times, too, wanting her to show some backbone and stand up to her sister. Especially when Ayoola takes an interest in Tade, the young doctor she likes. But Korede's relationship with her sister is tangled and complicated.
"I am more haunted by her actions than she is."
Ayoola, on the other hand, has an angelic face with a "music video vixen body." She's "incapable of practical underwear" and "completely oblivious to all but her own needs." And she gets away with anything and everything. As Korede describes her, "Ayoola is inconsiderate and selfish and reckless, but her welfare is and always has been my responsibility." And that's the heart and soul of this novel.
With its very short chapters and easy-to-read narrative style, it was tempting to fly through this book in one day. But I'm glad I didn't. Braithwaite's amazing prose deserves to be savored. I really got caught up in Korede's and Ayoola's sad yet compelling story. I loved this novel. And reading it with Melody just made it better. Be sure to check out her review and see what she thought about this one.
P.S. Here are Melody's questions for me about this particular read...and my answers:
Q. Sisterhood seems to be the core of this story. How do you feel about the sisterly bond between Korede and Ayoola? Do you like any of the sisters?
A. I think their sisterly bond is a strangling and suffocating one. Especially for Korede. (Who I liked better than Ayoola.) They're so co-dependent and stuck in their self-defined roles. I don't think either of them will ever be able to change or grow as long as they're together.
Q. What do you think of Korede's crush with Dr. Tade Otumu? Do you think she has a chance with him if Ayoola and Tade didn't get to know each other?
A. I think Korede's crush on Tade is one of the few normal and humanizing things about her. And I think their friendship could have grown into something more if Ayoola's beauty hadn't gotten in the way. Then again, I don't know if Korede could ever have let down her guard enough to open up to Tade and let him into her life or let him see who she really is. And if she did tell him all her secrets I doubt he would have been able to love her.