Sisterland – Curtis Sittenfeld: Two Sides To The Story

Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld

Earthquakes tend to shake our lives up, both literally and figuratively. They are reminders that our stable worlds are founded on relatively flimsy beliefs and even some uncharted lies and unexplored dark corners.

When an earthquake hits St.Louis, Missouri, the comfortable life of Kate Tucker, suburban housewife and mother of two, comes unraveled to reveal a few secrets that she’s spent her whole life trying to hide. Her identical twin, Violet ‘Vi’ Shramm is a psychic who predicts that there will be another earthquake. Kate is torn between holding on to the rational life fronted by her geologist husband and his peers and defending her sister from their derision. Vi’s prediction catches national interest and before the twins realize it, public attention is on their doorstep. This also forces Kate to confront her past self, Daisy Shramm, also gifted in ‘the senses’ and the reason she turned away from it. Old grievances like a childhood bully, a depressed mother and an unhappy marriage come tumbling out.

The book does an exceptional job of tying all of these together. Besides the obvious twins in the story – Daisy/Kate & Violet, there is a twinning of the past and the present as the book switches between a young Daisy exploring her psychic ability and an adult Kate shunning it for the sake of normalcy.

Sisterland: A NovelSisterland: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twins are an intriguing concept for any story. Then there’s psychic ability or ‘the senses’ that draws you in further. And finally doomsday predictions in middle America, biracial relationships and modern family units and it just keeps getting better.

Daisy & Violet are two identical twins with a difficult childhood that encompasses a dark secret. Violet revels in her ‘weird’ ability while Daisy is so traumatized by it that she bends over backward trying to be ‘normal’. An earthquake prediction happens and the tense but stable dynamic of Sisterland breaks loose.

Sisterland moves easily between the two protagonists, between the twinned pasts and presents. Its characters are memorable and its lines, interesting, even fun. Towards the middle it drags ever so slightly then hurries towards a surprising if hasty conclusion. Still, overall the story is very satisfying. I would read other books by Sitten,on the basis of this one.

I received this book for review from Netgalley.

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