Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sisterland: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sisterland: A Novel.  Curtis Sittenfeld. Random House Publishing Group. June 26, 2013. 416 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781400068319.

Kate and Vi are identical sisters who have the unusual ability to sense future events externally and in people’s lives.  While Vi totally embraces this ability, Kate has had a memorable experience that leads her to avoid even thinking about her ability.  The two sisters are very close, as identical twins very often are, but begin to grow apart as Vi becomes more and more strange, bohemian, and just plain shocking in her behavior, much to the consternation of Kate and her husband.

In the present, Vi’s job as medium increases as her TV appearance coincides with a scientist’s talk about a potential earthquake.  Given the public’s fascination with the weird and disastrous, it is Vi’s prediction that goes viral.  As the ramifications of this exposure grow daily, Kate must confront her past and the development of Vi’s “gift,” with all of its confusing and complex realities.  And so the story reverts to the past, to how both sisters recognized they could sense things, their discovery of its familial origins, and their attitude to it all.  Vi uses it, amazingly in one specific case that gets public exposure, and Kate just wants to be “normal.”  

Weaving back and forth between the past and present, the sisters’ stories weave with reality.  Kate in particular is dealing with a relationship with two dear friends, one of whom will be dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and the other being more than just a friend for a brief time.  Nothing is simple it seems, but could these experiences have been predicted, prevented, or developed in a different way? Silence is often as important as speaking when considering loyalty and betrayal, but the line can be thin indeed as Kate and Vi learn.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s presentation of characters is excellent, exploring the overt and covert connections that develop relationships, that which binds and severs closeness, the multiple random and deliberate misunderstandings that so strongly affect both one’s past and future life, the humor vital to defusing hot moments and drawing closer, and so much more!  This is an intriguing read of contemporary fiction with elements of mystery that totally engage the reader into the story until the very last page! Very well-done, Curtis Sittenfeld!

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