More Than You Expect

My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

Some readers will be attracted to My Sister the Serial Killer due to its captivating cover, others will automatically be drawn in by the compelling words “serial killer” in the title.  Still others will be curious about a book written by a new author who has received many positive reviews.  Regardless, all those who pick up Oyinkan Braithwaite’s short novel will be richly rewarded for the experience.  Set in Lagos, Nigeria this book is less of a true thriller and more of a literary gem with an edge. The author tells a tale about women’s roles and the familial responsibilities assigned to them by cultural expectations and external assessments of worth.  Two sides of one coin, Korede and Ayoola are sisters that complement each other as archetypes.  Korede, a nurse, is the older sister-plain and serious.  She is the prototypical protector and responsible one of the two. Ayoola is the carefree beauty who has come to expect all the attention and privilege that her looks have always engendered. The book’s short chapters flash back and forth in time, exploring the women’s troubled upbringing and the genesis of their predictably symbiotic relationship. A bit more unusual is the development that Ayoola has recently been killing off her suitors, and Korede has been helping to clean and cover up the mess.  Their loyalty is tested, however, when Korede’s secret object of affection becomes ensnared by her sister’s charms. My Sister the Serial Killer depicts women as strong and resourceful despite being confined by a patriarchal society that idolizes, abuses or ignores them. Braithwaite explores these complex themes in a novel that is refreshingly unique, deeply funny and insightful.  Hopefully, she will continue to surprise readers with future works to enjoy and contemplate.