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My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  2,109 ratings  ·  361 reviews
So begins the unexpurgated first-person narrative of nineteen-year-old Skyler Rampike, the only surviving child of an "infamous" American family. A decade ago the Rampikes were destroyed by the murder of Skyler's six-year-old ice-skating champion sister, Bliss, and the media scrutiny that followed. Part investigation into the unsolved murder; part elegy for the lost Bliss ...more
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published June 24th 2008 by Ecco (first published 2008)
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We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol OatesBlonde by Joyce Carol OatesThe Falls by Joyce Carol Oatesthem by Joyce Carol OatesMy Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates
Best of Joyce Carol Oates
5th out of 103 books — 36 voters
Reviving Ophelia by Mary PipherThe Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel HawthorneThe Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Secret by Rhonda ByrneHard Truth by Nevada Barr
Books I wouldn't Read Again
14th out of 26 books — 24 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bess
Jun 24, 2008 Bess rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Burke Ramsey
6/24: Finished last night. This has definitely moved into my #1 JCO book slot. (Blonde is really at the tippity top, but I don't really consider that a "book" so much as a fundamental component of life that everyone has to experience to become wholly human.) Somebody needs to dispatch a copy of this to Burke Ramsey, STAT, as it's the only thing that's happened publicly since the murder of his sister JonBenet a decade+ ago that legitimizes his existence as a standalone living, breathing entity wi ...more
Eddylee
Oct 06, 2008 Eddylee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who would have liked blonde to be even longer
Recommended to Eddylee by: lynn from work
awkward beginning but it gets great from page 32 on. this is Joyce carol oates' story inspired by the ramsey murder except told from the perspective of the older brother who is 22 now and a recovering drug addict and pretty crazy in a forlorn something-happened-to-him-that-made-his-hair-turn-grey-way that isn't used much anymore. really enjoyable. hard to put down.

i loved this book and i love joyce carol oates for continuing the gothic tradition. there were even some pure horror moments (for in
...more
Sarah
having just finished this book, i'm a bit resentful it took me all 500+ pages to decide i really don't like it. oates' narrator is a very troubled (tragic to almost the point of comedy) 19-yr old boy who continually stresses how he doesn't really know how to write. his constant asides and self-evalutaion get really annoying, besides from making the reader squint to read the small, self-conscious italics. who is joyce kidding? she's written more than shakespeare, so the whole 'forgive my inexperi ...more
Jimmie
Nov 04, 2008 Jimmie rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: absolutely nobody
This is Joyce Carol Oates' concept album. This is Joyce Carol Oates jumping the shark. Having published scores of books and becoming overconfident in her talent, this is Joyce Carol Oates' fuck-you to her loyal readership.

I've read a half-dozen of her books, and to vary degrees, I've enjoyed all of them immensely. She has an uncanny knack of creating dark, uncomfortable, creepy worlds out of the most mundane landscapes. I love the way she writes.

"My Sister, My Love," though, is just plain crap.
...more
Laura
In January of 1997, days before her 7th birthday, skating prodigy Bliss Rampike is found murdered in the basement of her home. Ten years later, her brother Skyler, now 19, writes this account of his life as it relates to this horrific event, in an attempt to somehow make sense of it all. The crime remains officially unsolved, but suspicions have been raised regarding a local sex offender, the parents and even Skyler himself. Skyler, with a litany of psychiatric diagnoses and an extensive medicat ...more
Randi Reisfeld
I'm one of those people who hear the words Joyce Carol Oates and JonBenet Ramsey and feel like I've hit the lottery. Okay, I'm one of the FEW people who feel that way. And the book, in most ways, doesn't disappoint, tho I can't see how she got away with naming the main characters Rampike (how close to Ramsey can you get!) and the mother, Betsey. Patsy was taken? The conceit of having the story told by the brother at age 19 (he was 9 when it happened) was a great idea BUT... here come the buts.

Th
...more
Marie
Repetitive, overloaded, too long by half, and crammed with pointless footnotes, this book was infuriating because it had big swaths of brilliance and could have been great with some judicious pruning. Unfortunately, any brilliance was almost immediately ruined by ridiculous, self-conscious chatter. If I had been reading a paper copy of this book, I think I would have been compelled to break out a red pen and start editing the damn thing.

A note to Kindle readers: this book will give your clickwhe
...more
Luana
Dopo una settimana di intensa e divoratrice lettura, ho terminato 'Sorella, mio unico amore' di Joyce Carol Oates del quale, vi ho già detto, non fidatevi della copertina. In quest'ultima appare infatti l'immagine di una bambola inquietante dagli occhi blu e i capelli ossigenati, messa a ridosso di un imbarazzante colore rosa shocking. Ma non fatevi ingannare: il romanzo tratta di un omicidio. Nel 1997, venne uccisa in casa JonBenet Ramsey, bambina di sei anni famosa in America per essere la vin ...more
Margaret
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Talia Carner
How does a family turn dysfunctional? In this wonderful novel, no doubt inspired by the JonBenet Ramsey case, Oates explores the intimate family dynamics that cause the tragic death of the family's star--the six-years old ice-skating prodigy.

The same intensity that compels parents to push their children to the highest achievement is the same intensity that also becomes too heavy for the family's complex, yet fragile, fabric to bear.

Each parents' view of own self, disappointment from what they
...more
Caitlin
Of course this is what Joyce Carol Oates expected: once again I would allow my prurient fascination with an American pop murder (and an uncannily prolific favorite author) to lead me all the way to the bookstore--a Barnes and Noble no less!--on my bicycle in the rain to purchase a $30 hardcover edition of her brand new novel. And I hate hardcovers! What I was hoping for, I would assure Ms. Oates, was not just another slick and sleazy rendition of the JonBenet Ramsey story (one I surely could hav ...more
Kate Walker
This one sucked me in like all the rest, but 100 pages from the end I'm done. It is very similar in tone and style to, Blonde, which reimagined the life and death of Marilyn Monroe. This one gives the same treatment to the life and death of Jonbenet Ramsey. I was intrigued by the portrayal of the dysfunctional family and the dreadful stage mother phenomenon. However, the murder of the little girl was so horrible it gave me an anxiety attack and I finally realized I should just stop reading the d ...more
Ginger
This is an over-the-top fictionalization of the Jon Benet Ramsey murder. JCO uses a some obnoxious devices, like footnotes and shifting POV, but she's just so damn good I couldn't put it down. This book is darkly humorous. It's kind of stomach-turning...but in a fun way.
Tina Cipolla
I borrowed this book from the library, having no idea what it was going to be about; it wasn't until I opened it at home that I groaned and thought twice about whether to read it or not. I figured I'd give Oates 50 pages to hook me and she did it in 5. I finished this is about a week.


This story is JCO's reimagining of the JonBenet Ramsey story told from the perspective of the 9 year old brother, who at the time this story is told is 19. Details were changed and the author's imagination filled in
...more
Larry Bassett
Let’s get The Spoiler out of the way: (view spoiler)

My Sister, My Love has this “Author’s Note/Disclaimer” at the front of the book:

Though My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike has its genesis in a notorious American “true crime mystery” of the late twentieth century, it is a work of the imagination solely and lays no claim to representing actual persons, places, or historical events. This includes all characters in the Rampike family, t
...more
Sarah
The reason why I recommend J.C.O to every single person who reads books is that she has the incredible and uncanny ability to write about the God awful and profane (usually the place in our souls where violent destruction and lust intersect) while at the same time treating her subjects with compassion. This book disappoints, in that while its subject is truly a God-awful and profane mess (the world of child celebrity as experienced by a little boy whose 6 year old sister is an ice skating celebr ...more
Jeanne
Jul 17, 2008 Jeanne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone intrigued by the JonBenet Ramsey case
If you were intrigued by the murder of the pint-sized beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey, you'll love the latest offering from JCO.

With My Sister, My Love, Oates tells the story of Bliss Rampike's short-lived skating career and her bizarre murder. And the best part? The story is told from her older brother's point of view. Poor Skyler Rampike! First, he's maimed in a gymnastics accident, then he plays second fiddle to his little sis, a skating prodigy, and finally, he is left on his own to mourn the
...more
Lori
My head's a little spinny.

(Joyce Carol Oates will do that to you.)

My Sister, My Love, her take on the JonBenet Ramsey family, is immense -- both in size and scope. Part satire, part tragedy, all meta, the book is less about the murder of pint-sized ice-skating sensation Bliss Ramsey than the familial and societal pressures of The American Dream.

Told as the memoir of Skyler, Bliss's now-20, then-9-year-old brother, the book is more than a bit chaotic and self-reverential. It's skeevy -- I could'v
...more
Fiona
This is perhaps one of the most engaging and well written books I have read in a long time. The way the author gets into the main character's head is fascinating, and gives a unique view into a fully visualised boy going through the most challenging aspects of his life. Skyler jumps off the pages at you, as does his father Bix Rampike, whose bullying, chauvanistic views bounce nicely off of the bitter, naive sarcasm of Skyler and the innocence of his younger sister Bliss. The only character that ...more
Judy Croome
JUST TO ASSURE THE READER: YOUR EXPERIENCE OF THE BOOK WILL BE DIFFERENT TO MINE. Never will you know how many “anonymous reader-reviewers” (including your cybercesspoolspace so-called friends) will press the “NO-this-is-not-helpful” button on your review and if asked why, why say NO, why hurt another person, the answer is Because you and I are both anonymous to each other, that’s why.

 And, in case you’re wondering at the postmodernist/strange/odd shape this review will take, the canny reader
...more
Alessia
‘Bix e Betsey Rampike a prima vista sono un caso di esemplare medietà suburbana: vivono non lontano eppure distantissimi dalla grande città, in un New Jersey tanto sonnacchioso quanto crudele nelle sue frammentazioni economiche e sociali; conducono un'esistenza che oscilla poco consapevolmente tra appagato conformismo e smodata ambizione; hanno due figli che, se per Bix sono l'incarnazione di un perenne senso di colpa venato di responsabilità, per Betsey rappresentano il veicolo di sogni di glor ...more
Fernanda
Drama. Un libro que me llegó. Una familia disfuncional como muchas cuya historia es relatada por el hijo mayor de la pareja, cuya vida, fue destruida por un acontecimiento que nadie veía venir: la muerte de su hermana de 6 años.

La historia me envolvió hasta la página 100, la verdad es que no me llegaba mucho el joven de 19 años con problemas psicológicos provocados por su traumática infancia, hasta que hace acto de parecencia la pequeña Edna Louise siendo la pequeña hija relegada cuya vida no sa
...more
Don Mitchell
Wow, what a book. A haunting book inspired by Jonbonet Ramsey's murder (although it doesn't say so) told as a first person narrative through her 3 years older brother. He's 9 at the time of the murder and 20 at the end of the book.

The book chronicles the almost pornographic display of the ice skating beauty from 4 to 6 years old, followed by her murder and the disintegration of the family. Bliss's ice skating reminded me of The Rocking Horse Winner—the intense sense of the child as OCD savior. A
...more
Michelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina
The first novel I read by Joyce Carol Oates, was Blonde – and it blew me away. I loved it and was so impressed by it. This novel reminds me of Blonde in that they both deal with celebrity life and death – Blonde with Marilyn Monroe, My Sister My love with JonBenet Ramsay – and also, in the way the story is told.
In my opinion, one of the main themes of JCO’s works are ’the american dream gone bad’. This novel follows the brief life of Bliss Rampike, ice skating prodigy, and her murder when she
...more
Estibaliz79
Otra gran novela de Joyce Carol Oates. ¿Quién, si no ella, podía escribir un libro de ficción basado en un suceso real tan controvertido y escalofriante como el asesinato de la reina de la belleza infantil JonBenét Ramsey? Y salir airosa del reto...

Es esta una historia que ofrece diversos niveles de lectura y una gran riqueza de temas y personajes. Narrada desde el punto de vista del hermano mayor de la pequeña protagonista del drama, "Mi Hermana, mi Amor" habla de la culpa, la fama, el matrimon
...more
Rebecca
I love Joyce Carol Oates. Not all of her books are spot-on for me, though. I found "The Tattooed Girl" slow as hell, and "Wonderland" held my attention but I hated all of the characters which made reading it a strange experience.

That said, "My Sister My Love" was brilliant. The main character (Skyler) was unexpectedly likable. I could not put this book down. It's at least 500 pages and I read it in 2 days. In a nutshell, "My Sister My Love" is Oates at her best, darkest writer-self.

A final dis
...more
Anne
My first Joyce Carol Oates book and I am not sure that I want to read another. The parallel to the sad story of JonBenet Ramsay is obvious. Oates has thrown in a myriad of other themes centered on crass, overly-ambitious, under-educated adults. The real problem with the book is the shallow and unsympathetic nature of the characters. In my view a successful story captures the reader's interest in the characters whether they are good or bad. None of the people here caused me to care a whit about t ...more
Helen
I wanted to really like this book, I've liked all of JCO's books... and it's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't want to continue reading it. I wish the middle of the book was removed, I didn't need the "novella" about the love interest. The story itself and how it was told... I didn't have a problem with that. Even all of the footnotes didn't bother me, though I don't think that many of them needed to be footnotes and then they would been easier to see. I realized at some point that I was ...more
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Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is also the recipient of the 2005 Prix Femina for The Falls. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and she has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. Pseudonyms ... Rosamond Smith and Laure ...more
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“For in America this season is decreed “family season”. (Eat your hearts out, you pitiable loners who don’t have families!) Melancholy as Thanksgiving is, the Christmas-New year’s season is far worse and lasts far longer, providing rich fund of opportunities for self-medicating, mental collapse, suicide and public mayhem with firearms. In fact it might be argued that the Christmas-New year’s season which begins abruptly after Thanksgiving is now the core-sason of American life itself, the meaning of American life„ the brute existencial point of it.
How without families must envy us who bask in parental love, in the glow of yule-logs burning in fireplaces stoked by our daddie’s robust pokers, we who are stuffed to bursting with our mummie’s frantic holiday cooking; how you wish you could be us, pampered/protected kids tearing expensive foil wrappings off too many packages to count, gathered about the Christmas tree on Christmas morning as Mummy gently chided: “Skyler! Bliss! Show Daddy and Mummy what you’ve just opened, please! And save the little cards, so you know who gave such nice things to you”
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“Freaky kids like us can’t ever be normal- Tyler says smugly- Our generation is some new kind of “evolutionary development”, my shrink says- “Normal” is just “average”, not cool. My latest diagnosis is “A.P.M”, Acute Premature Melancholia”, usually an affliction of late middle age, they think is genetic since Ty Senoir has had it all his life, too.
You look if you might be A.P.M, too, Sky: that kind of pissed-off mopey look in your face like you swallowed something really gross and can’t spit it out.”
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