Book review: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

SisterlandSisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Sisterland, population 2” was the sign Violet and Daisy posted on the door to their room when they were children. As twins, and specifically as twins within a dysfunctional family unit, it was often the two of them pitted against the world, at least until they were grown and left the family home to forge their separate ways.

In college, Daisy shed her childhood identity and became Kate (her middle name); she avoided mention of her twin with whom she shared a psychic talent; she deliberately suffocated that talent itself; and when she married and changed her name, she put behind her virtually all easily recognizable association with her family of origin. In the suburbs of a city the size of St. Louis, it was relatively easy to avoid anyone who may have known her when she was young.

Violet, on the other hand, failed at everything — college, relationships, jobs — and eventually embraced her psychic talent and turned it into her livelihood. When she predicts a major earthquake will hit soon, Violet attracts national attention, and Kate’s quiet suburban life is thrown into an uproar.

Sittenfeld has written a thoughtful examination of sisterhood and marriage, friendship and family, and how the choices we make affect not only ourselves but the people around us. Lovely work.

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