Lit Witch: My Sister, the Serial Killer

While I was cogitating how to move on with writing, I didn’t keep up to date with planned posts on Digressions, and now I’m left wondering what I should write about first. My favorites of 2018 list? There weren’t very many, and nobody cares about a 2018 list three months into 2019, not even me. What about the long, dramatic post I had planned about combining Black History Month and Women in Horror Month? I finally read Beloved, and, holy hell, dears, me trying to explain how good it is would be like a sunflower praising the sun: redundant, obvious, unnecessary. Plus, everyone else had that conversation in 1988, again in 1993, and again in 1998.

So let’s skip it, pretend I wrote all that stuff, and move on to what’s happening now: My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. I got so wrapped up in this book that I came home from work and sat down to finish it without taking off my bra. That pretty much says it all, but if you need more, My Sister has a lot of unique elements going for it that make it worth your time:

  • It has a unique point of view. Crime novels are generally written from the point of view of the victim, the detective, the criminal, or some combination. As this title implies, the serial killer’s sister is our guide through the macabre. It’s a perspective that asks we readers to question the depths of our own loyalty. For whom would we cover up a murder? Under what circumstances? What level of loyalty would we expect in return?
  • It’s short. Technically, it’s 225 pages, which isn’t long at all, but on top of that, the trim size is tiny, maybe 5×7. If that book is 40,000 words, I’ll eat it. I love a big, meaty novel as much as the next literary glutton, but it’s a lot of fun to be pulled through a novel at breakneck pace and out the other side in a few reading hours. The chapters are short, too, most no more than two pages. They basically become potato chips; you decide to stop reading at the end of the next chapter, but they’re so short you can’t help but read just one more. And one more. And one more.
  • My Sister has a lot to say about how we see ourselves and others. Is the narrator unreliable? (I’m still not sure.) Does the twist at the end justify the murders? If the victims are so shallow that they can’t see past physical beauty, do they, perhaps, deserve to die?

Personally, I related to “good,” nonmurderous sister Korede probably just a little too much. If everyone would just do as Korede says, everything would be fine! If this floor is clean enough, if this closet is organized enough, if sister Ayoola would just stop carrying that giant knife in her purse. . . .

For an extra bit of fun, after you’ve finished My Sister, check out the podcast Marginalia with Beth Golay. She interviews Oyin Braithwaite in episode 37. Listening to Braithwaite come to a realization about her own novel based on a question Golay asks is pure delight.

I might be a little bit biased, though. Marginalia is produced in my hometown and is just the most recent indicator of our strong literary community, a community I hope to amplify in this blog. To that end, the next post will cover the literary scene in Wichita.

The Lit Witch is on the case!

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