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The Power of Blood and Bleach in Oyinkan Braithwaite’s ‘My Sister, The Serial Killer.’

After discovering that Zimbabwe has a public holiday today, I decided that the best way to spend the day would be to bury myself in a book! This is a short and light novel that one can read in one sitting. It reads, like a movie, what my partner called, ‘an African movie.’ I am glad that I chose this book after my last two reads because they were heavy and emotionally taxing. This book is a great read for comic relief.


Author’s Profile

Oyinkan Braithwhite is a Nigerian-British writer. She is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingstone University. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top-ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam. This is her debut novel which won an Anthony Award for Best First Novel in 2019. (Bio extracted from inward back cover)


My Thoughts

At the centre of this novel are two sisters Korede (the narrator and a nurse) and Ayoola (a fashion designer and the younger sibling) who share a love which appears to be one sided. Korede bears the conviction that she is responsible for her sister and has to clean up after her. As the story goes deeper it also becomes clear that the mother has something to do with this. Ayoola kills her boyfriends (in what she calls ‘self-defence’)and calls upon Korede to cover the murders. Korede always shows up for her sister despite suffering internal turmoil afterwards while Ayoola continues with her life like nothing ever happened. This was frustrating because I wondered why Korede continued to show up for her younger sister. Perhaps, what the book seeks to show is that blood is thicker than water. That would be the best explanation for the dynamics of the sisters’ relationship, family obligations that demand one’s peace of mind! A part of me believes that after the first murder, there was no turning back for both sisters, in protecting Ayoola, Korede was also protecting herself. Would you help out your sibling who had committed murder?

Some of the major themes in the plot are familial relations, domestic abuse, violence and its recurrence and work relations. Korede begins to question Ayoola’s actions when a man that she works with and has a crush on, Dr. Taye, falls in love with her sister building up to a relationship which she aims to destroy. Korede’s fear that he could be the next murdered ex- boyfriend sends the sister’s relationship into uncharted waters. Korede also seems to be remorseful that Femi died and her role in masking the murder. But if she was wouldn’t she have told the truth and set herself free? Sometimes, like in this case, the truth is not a tool for freedom but incarceration. The truth would have led to both of them being arrested and possibly in prison. On one hand, Korede cares deeply for her sister. While on the other hand, Ayoola is carefree, lies a lot and is entitled beyond words. She takes advantage of the fact that Korede is her blood (kin) who is also a compulsive cleaner (great for cleaning up murder scenes). I think Korede is trapped.

Here are some quotes from the book:

1. ‘At any rate, the bridge is not a stranger to death.’ page 19

2. ‘There never seemed to be much point in masking my imperfections. It’s as futile as using air freshener when you leave the toilet-it just inevitably ends up smelling like perfumed shit.’ page 71

3. ‘Love is not a weed It cannot grow where it please…’ page 124

4. ‘The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we are: a subtle kind of murder page’ 169

5. ‘She was right. You have to choose a side, and my lot was cast long ago. She will always have me and I will always have her; no one else matters.’ page 220

I enjoyed the simple language, the fast pace, the comic relief and the short chapters (which could have contributed to one of the things that I did not enjoy about the book, the skeletal characters). I also did not enjoy the way the book ended. Do not let the title fool you, I thought this was going to be one of those intense criminal thriller books but it was not. I wanted more out of it but I still appreciate the humour. This is a book to read if you are looking for something fast paced.


Book Details

Title: My Sister, The Serial Killer

Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 240

Publisher: Doubleday; 1st Edition (2018)

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