Stephanie M. Wytovich
Love, Knives, and a High Body Count: That's What Sisters Are Made of.
I’ve had My Sister, The Serial Killer my Oyinkan Braithwaite on my TBR list since it came out in 2017, and by chance, I saw it at Half Price Books a few weeks ago and quickly grabbed it. After a pretty intense comic binge last week, I needed something to take with me to the gym—yes, I do a lot of reading there and have become a master multitasker—so I picked this up and brought it with me to read on the treadmill during my warm up. I ended up walking for over an hour because I was so engrossed in the story that I lost track of time. In fact, I tore through this book and finished it the next day.
Honestly, I can’t remember the last time a story has demanded my attention like that, and I think a big reason why that happened was because of the character development and raw honestly in this book.
The story primarily focuses around two characters: Korede and Ayoola. Korede is the responsible, smart, and rational older sister who needs to take of her reckless, sociopathic younger sister, Ayoola, who—fun fact!—happens to be a serial killer. Now Ayoola is hardly a likable character, and not just because she has a tendency to stab her boyfriends when she gets bored. She’s cold, materialistic, greedy, and lazy, but she airs this cloud of innocence that tends to fool everyone around her into thinking she’s a damsel-in-distress begging for attention and validation. It doesn’t hurt her case that she’s beautiful and has the body of a model, and Ayoola is 100% aware of that.
But it does hurt someone: Korede.
Despite being the older sibling, Korede has always lived in her sister’s shadow. Constantly tasked with cleaning up her sister’s messes for fear of her landing herself in jail (or worse), Korede puts her own life at risk time and time again as she tries to understand and manage Ayoola’s bad habits to keep her safe. Make no mistake, she loves Ayoola and their bond is unshakable, but you can taste the tension in this book; it’s palpable and Korede at times, seems like she’s the one who we should really be afraid of.
Something that I particularly loved about the book was when we got these quick little snapshots into the girl’s upbringing and family life. We learn about their relationship with their father, see how their mother tasked Korede with the guardianship of Ayoola, witness the violence and fear that ran hot through the tension-filled discussions and events in this house.
My Sister, the Serial Killer is told in a simple, direct, and blunt manner, and I felt like Braithwaite was speaking it to me while I read. It’s an easy book to fall for, to become mesmerized by, and I feel confident that if you pick this up, you’ll get sucked into the nightmare that becomes Korede’s life, and the best part about that nightmare is that the scariest parts don’t include the killings. It’s life that challenges her, that pulls her apart. All those stereotypes about women, about violence, about beauty and marriage that dig the knife into her chest. And the most horrifying part about that is how those crimes make Ayoola look like a kitten, a victim.
But someone has to clean up the blood, and if you help dispose of the bodies, how do you ever wash your hands clean? Can you be a hero if you’re taking part in the crime?
I give this book 5/5 knife wounds.