3 reviews

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Published: 2018-11-20
Hardcover : 240 pages
34 members reading this now
49 clubs reading this now
1 member has read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 3 members
"Pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan...This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember."--NEW YORK TIMES

"The wittiest and most fun murder party you've ever been invited to."--MARIE CLAIRE

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"Pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan...This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember."--NEW YORK TIMES

"The wittiest and most fun murder party you've ever been invited to."--MARIE CLAIRE


A short, darkly funny, hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends

"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite's deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of November 2018: Ayoola is the merriest murderer you ever did see. Young and beautiful, the favorite child, she’s on the phone to her older sister when My Sister, The Serial Killer opens, asking her to come quick. She’s just killed her boyfriend and needs help clearing the scene. It’s not the first time one of Ayoola’s boyfriends has met the business end of her blade, either. Older sister Korede, plain and overlooked, has drawn on her nursing training to clean up after two other hapless beaux. Who better to make blood disappear? And so far, Korede’s objections have been centered on classification ("Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer") rather than say, morality. As she says of her sister: “She needs me more than I need untainted hands.” But when the object of Korede’s desire, a doctor at the Lagos hospital where she works, becomes trapped in Ayoola’s web, fraternal loyalty collides with sibling rivalry, and one of these women is deadly with a knife. Darkly comic is a powerful understatement here; this short debut packs a brutal punch, crackling with glee and sly humor. Pages never turned so fast. —Vannessa Cronin


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Discussion Questions

1. Why does Korede continue cover up for her sister, to protect her? What are the justifications she uses to convince herself that Ayoola isn't a serial killer or a monster? Given the sisters' closeness, what would you do in Korede's place?

2. Why does Ayoola kill? Korede wonders whether the knife she carries has somehow cursed her with a violent streak. Is Ayoola cursed? Does she carry the knife for self-defense, as she claims, to protect her against the men to hurt her? Or are Ayoola's murders a product of something else entirely?

3. (Follow-up to Question 2) The girls' father was a violent man—it's his knife Ayoola carries. How might the knife stand as a symbol of the girls' family legacy of abuse and violence?

4. (Follow-up to Question 2 & 3) What are the family dynamics? To what extent have the girls' parents shaped their daughters' different behaviors?

5. How would you describe Korede? As she tells us, "There never seemed to be much point in masking my imperfections. It's as futile as using air freshener when you leave the toilet." What does this comment suggest about Korede's self-identity: her sense of herself and her place in the world?

6. Korede, who lacks the beauty her sister possesses, believes that "love is only for the beautiful." What does the novel suggest about the power of beauty: the privileges and authority it commands, both on a personal level and in the wider society? How do you see the role of beauty in real life—our lives, our society?

7. Talk about the menace and corruption that permeates Lagos, as well as the daily humiliations or sense of entitlement to which its residents are subjected.

8. (Follow-up to Question 7) Consider the incident when the policeman bribes a frightened Korede; she knows that "Educated women anger men of his ilk." How would you describe the place of women in Nigerian society as depicted in the novel?

9. One of Ayoola's boyfriends challenges Korede about her sister: "There's something wrong with her, he says. "But you? What's your excuse?" What specifically prompts his query? And how does, or how should, Korede respond?

10. What was your overall experience reading My Sister, the Serial Killer? The book is considered by most critics/reviewers as "darkly humorous." Do you find it funny; if so, where do you find the humor?

questions from Litlovers

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Excellent Summer Read"by SKLipp$ (see profile) 07/09/20

This book can easily be read in a few hours. With so many of us at home and bored because of COVID-19, the story of a sister keeping her younger sister's murders a secret is a welcome escape from CNN... (read more)

by puzzled66 (see profile) 06/15/20

by [email protected] (see profile) 05/06/20

Repetitive, the most interesting part is where it was set.

by [email protected] (see profile) 03/12/20

A quick burn! It was a simply entertaining and blatantly predictable read that got me thinking and wondering who is actually at fault in all of this. Small time investment for a decent payout.

by [email protected] (see profile) 02/08/20

This book is a quick read, however it reels you in from the first page. The twists and turns this book takes will have you hooked until the end.

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