Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him.
I had hoped I would never hear those words again.
With that awesome opening, Oyinkan Braithwaite had me hooked from the start. Her debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, is quite the page-turner – a quirky, darkly funny, kind of sad, creepy depiction of sisters caught in a warped dynamic.
Korede is the responsible, plain-looking older sister, working as a nurse in a Lagos hospital. Ayoola is the younger, flightier, more beautiful sister who posts incessantly on Instagram and attracts men easily. We are drawn into the action immediately, as Ayoola asks for her sister’s help after she kills the man she’s been dating.
“We need to move the body,” I tell her.
“Are you angry at me?”
Perhaps a normal person would be angry, but what I feel now is a pressing need to dispose of the body.
We learn more about the sisters’ childhood, their violent and abusive father. We start to understand more about how that affected them.
More and more, she reminds me of him. He could do a bad thing and behave like a model citizen right after. As though the bad thing had never happened. Is it in the blood? But his blood is my blood and my blood is hers.
Korede is in love with a doctor at the hospital named Tade. He is unaware of how she feels, viewing her as a friend who really listens to him. Once Ayoola and Tade meet, a meeting Korede was desperate to block, a chain of events is set into motion that will give Korede the opportunity to break free from the family’s cycle of violence and dysfunction. Will she be strong enough to take it, though?
There are moments of humor sprinkled throughout the novel, enough to make this not a bleak book despite the subject matter.
“You’re not the only one suffering, you know. You act like you are carrying this big thing all by yourself, but I worry too.”
“Do you? ‘Cause the other day, you were singing ‘I Believe I Can Fly.'”
Ayoola shrugs. “It’s a good song.”
I alternately felt sorry for and frustrated by both sisters. But I never lost interest or stopped wanting to turn pages. (I also LOVE the cover.) This is a smart, insightful debut and I can’t wait to see what Braithwaite does next.