6. A book written in Africa: My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
List Progress: 9/30
How far can familial love go? Is there such a thing as unconditional love, love that has absolutely nothing that could stop or lessen it? Most people, if pressed, have some conditions they put on the love they feel for others, even their nearest and dearest. But Korede, the protagonist of 2018 Nigerian novel My Sister, The Serial Killer, has no conditions on her love for her younger sister Ayoola, the titular serial killer. She doesn’t particularly like Ayoola, she resents her and carries a lot of anger towards the ways she has hurt Korede and others, but at the end of the day she has a cold, fierce love for her baby sister that is free of any and all conditions. And that is truly a terrible thing, but makes for a tense novel.
Author Oyinkan Braithwaite tells the story of Korede, a meticulous nurse working in a small hospital in Lagos, and her gorgeous, charming, magnetic sister Ayoola, who holds the spotlight in every room she walks into. Bonded by a traumatic childhood, Korede sees it as her job to protect Ayoola, even when she calls her in the middle of the night to help her deal with a boyfriend that Ayoola killed in self-defense. But the novel opens with the third dead boyfriend, and the claim of self-defense is ringing more than a little hollow. Korede can’t turn Ayoola in without revealing her own role in cleaning up the crime scenes, but far more important than that, she can’t turn her back on her sister. Korede gets by by unloading her soul to comatose patients at the hospital, but things reach a boiling point when Ayoola sets her sights on the object of Korede’s affections, as her next conquest and potential next victim.
Braithwaite keeps the book moving at a fast clip and the tension high, with very, very short chapters that move as quickly as Korede’s harried thoughts. The plot itself is not complicated, so this tension carries the novel. For a reader who doesn’t click with Korede, this could be a frustrating book, especially as Ayoola is an intentionally-frustrating character, but both of them get under your skin in a very engaging way. You sometimes want to yell at the page, but in the same exhilarating way that you yell at the screen for someone not to go into the haunted house. The haunted houses in My Sister, The Serial Killer are people, but they are just as filled with ghosts.
Would I Recommend It: Very much yes.