Book Review: Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld


Identical twins Kate and Violet were born with special a “sense” – they had psychic abilities that allowed them to see certain future events and see other people’s secrets. After being shunned in junior high school for revealing her powers to one of the popular girls, Kate decides that her powers are more a curse than a blessing. While her sister Violet embraces her psychic abilities, Kate does everything in her power to destroy them.

Years later, Kate is happily married with two kids. She thought she had completely moved on from her past, but everything is brought back to the surface when Violet makes a public prediction that an earthquake will hit their hometown of St. Louis sometime in the near future. Kate struggles with reconnecting with her abilities and her sister while also trying to protect her family from the backlash the prediction has resulted in.

I was so excited for this book. I loved Curtis Sittenfeld’s previous novels, especially Prep, so I was ecstatic to find out she was releasing a new book. And my excitement grew when I found out it was going to be a novel revolving around sisters. This book starts out well and there were a lot of things about it that I enjoyed, but sadly it really loses its way towards the end. The end result of this novel did not mesh with the overall tone of the book. It read as thought Sittenfeld herself did not know exactly where she was going with everything, thought of a random idea, and just went with it.

Like all of Sittenfeld’s novels, the main character is not very likable. Kate definitely takes the cake as the worst. At times she is completely insufferable and it’s difficult to find any redeeming quality. Since the novel is written in first-person narrative, this may make it extremely difficult for some to read. An unlikable main character is never easy; being inside their hide can be unbearable at times.

Despite my strong dislike for Kate, I made it through the book because when Sittenfeld is good, she’s really good. This book takes place in present time but there are a lot of flashbacks of when the twins were younger. I enjoyed the flashbacks a lot more. I think Sittenfeld should stick to writing through the perspective of younger people. I liked reading about the twins’ days in junior high school, high school, and college. Sittenfeld wonderfully describes those awkward moments most of us face when we’re younger. However, her outlook on adult life seems to be rather smug. I get the feeling that if you’re over thirty and still not married and childless, Sittenfeld will look down on you.

After reading this book, I can say that Prep is still my favorite Sittenfeld novel. Unfortunately, this is my least favorite. I really wish Sittenfeld would stick to writing through the perspective of teenagers and/or young adults.

Final Verdict: This book definitely had its good points and its bad points. I gave it a 3-star rating on Goodreads.


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