Book Review : Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

July 10, 2013 Book review 0 ★★★★

With huge expectations I picked up this book. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my favourite books and this was the first book by this author that I have read since Prep. So did it live up to expectations? It did and it didn’t.

Book Review : Sisterland by Curtis SittenfeldSisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Published by Random House on 25 June 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Womens Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
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four-stars

Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of American Wife and Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief.

From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.

Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.

Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today

My Recap:
Sisterland tells the story of identical twin sisters Kate and Violet. Both have a psychic ability but while Violet has embraced her extra sense and makes a living from it, Kate has buried it deep and never talks about it. Violet has predicted an earthquake to hit the St. Louis area and this has made headline news. Kate now has a double fear of the earthquake and also anyone finding out about her abilities.

My Thoughts:
I initially thought this book was building to the day that earthquake was predicted for so we could see if Violet was correct or not. However ‘earthquake day’ is the sideline story, what this book is about is the relationship between family and in particular sisters. Sisterland takes the ordinary moments of everyday life and pieces them all together like a puzzle to show how all those seemingly trivial moments make us who we are.

The book is character driven. We know these characters (especially Kate) intimately from their daily routines to their innermost thoughts. They are totally believable and even though I’m no psychic I could nearly tell what each twin would be doing right now. You know, if they were real! And the difference between the twins is fascinating. I’m always intrigued by the nature versus nuture debate and here we have identical twins, raised in the same environment and they are polar opposites of each other.

Told through a series of flashbacks, Sisterland is at times sad and poignant but then goes to happy and fun. I have a feeling that I won’t forget the characters for a long time as both made such an impression on me.

I found Kate a more likeable character probably as I can relate better to her. Kate is happilyish married, living in suburbia with 2 young children and her life is bound by routines and the familiar trappings of everyday life. Violet is a new age hippy, currently experimenting with lesbianism and her life is colourful and unbound by rules. The secondary characters in the books are equally well built up and described and this is by far the strongest part of the book.

So far, so good. But. Yes there is a but.  Sisterland dragged at times and lacked momentum. I felt we were going nowhere and as interesting as the characters were, I felt I needed more of a plotline. However towards the end, the book took an unexpected turn and I feel in love with it again. I needed something to happen for the characters and I got it which changed my 3 star feelings back to a 4 star feeling.

Who should read Sisterland?
If you like character driven books and enjoy adult contemporary fiction such as Jodi Picoult then I think this would be for you. I also think it would make a great book club read as there are some great themes for discussion.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

four-stars

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