Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

sisterlandThis was excellent.  I adored Prep, but skipped American Wife.  I was a little uneasy going in to this because a couple of trusted book friends said they didn’t like the ending. So I kept wondering what was going to happen and whether it would spoil it for me. Fortunately, I was soon so caught up in the story and wonderful writing that I let that go. Until the ending happened and I totally agreed with my friends and thus it only gets 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 from me on Goodreads.  But I’ll leave my comments about that until the end.
Kate is an identical twin with Violet.  Since childhood they’ve had “senses” about things, but this perception has made Kate uneasy, whereas Violet, who is more of a bohemian free spirit, has embraced it and makes her living as a psychic.  From the the beginning it seems like Kate has her act together-married to an awesome guy, mother to a baby and toddler, a happy homemaker- while Violet is kind of, well, not a loser, but she doesn’t have her act together.  Flirting with lesbianism, overweight, a psychic, and just not settled. Then one day Violet has a big prediction–an earthquake will come to St. Louis and soon.  When Kate herself has a prediction-the earthquake will be on October 16-Violet shares that date publicly.  The city becomes gripped with a combination of anticipation, fear, and excitement.  Kate is gripped mostly with anxiety and embarrassment.  Her husband is an earth scientist so Violet’s prediction is especially embarrassing.  I felt like the buildup to October 16 was incredibly suspenseful.  In fact, I actually got very excited and wound up as the pages went by on October 16 as I waited, waited, to see what would happen. That was one of the things I really liked about this.  The other thing I really liked, was just how well Sittenfeld wrote, and particularly about some of the ways Kate feels about motherhood. A few things stuck with me, such as when Kate looks at her sleeping daughter and it feels like she’s making a deposit in the bank of her daughter’s well-being.  I completely understood that and I loved the way she wrote that.
Overall, a totally excellent book. I really enjoyed it, the story was interesting, the writing was great, and she definitely conveyed life with young kids well, Now about that half star subtraction……possible spoiler, so stop here if you’re going to read it!


I hated what she did at the end. I thought it was so unnecessary. The story was already good and then she had to throw in a terrible cliche and ruin her life and make me so unhappy with the character.  On the other hand…..I did love how it meant the prediction came true, just not the way she thought. Which leads you to wonder about her making things happen, or if things are fated.  So even though I was really uncomfortable with that entire aspect of the story (and just so MAD at Kate for f’ing up her life with Jeremy!!) maybe it does make the book work.



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