Sunday, April 21, 2019

My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018)

The story begins when Korede receives a phone call from her sister, who has just murdered her boyfriend. She needs Korede's help to clean things up. This is the third time. Korede knows that it is wrong but Ayoola is her sister and it's her job to protect her. Plus, at this point she's already an accessory because the first time it happened she believed Ayoola that it was self-defense, and now she's just in too deep. So she helps Ayoola dispose of the body and clean up the guy's apartment once again.

However, Ayoola is now setting her sights on Tade, a doctor with whom Korede works. Korede is in love with Tade, but her beauty is no match for Ayoola's and now Korede is afraid Tade will end up dead as well. The only person Korede can talk to is a coma patient whose family doesn't visit often. He's been there for months and his family no longer visits often, but Korede sits and talks to him because he can't talk back and will likely never wake up.

This is a super short book and I read it in two evenings. It's only a little over 200 pages and they are small pages. It goes quickly but there is a lot here. It's really an understatement to say that Korede's and Ayoola's relationship is complicated and a little unhealthy. Ayoola is the beautiful one who can get away with anything (literally!) because everyone around her is blinded by her beauty. Korede is the dependable one, often overlooked, but she is a nurse and is always the one who takes care of everyone. They also have the shared experience of growing up with their father, which is a story in itself that we get piece by piece throughout the story. He was not a nice man and he is dead now, but it is his knife that Ayoola uses on her victims.

The status of women in Nigeria is undoubtedly more complicated than I know, but it's definitely not ideal. Korede and Ayoola's father would beat them, and he once brought a mistress home and paraded her in front of his wife. I don't think these things are necessarily super unusual, and they definitely provide an interesting context for a story about a woman murdering men.

There's a lot to talk about and think about here, so if you're looking for an especially unusual book group pick, I think this would be a stellar choice. I haven't read anything quite like this surprising debut novel, and I will be eagerly awaiting Braithwaite's next book.

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