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The Desirable Sister

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  25 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Gia and Serena Pirji are sisters, but as the first-generation born in Canada to immigrant parents, their lives play out in different ways because of their skin tone. Gia's fair skin grants her membership to cliques of white kids as a teen, while Serena's dark skin means she is labelled as Indian and treated as inferior. This superficial difference, imposed by a society obs ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published November 2nd 2019 by Roseway Publishing
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Dora Okeyo
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Color's often played a bigger in access to social privileges all over the world. It's even birthed the terms "racist" and "racism." However, in reading this book, what's guaranteed is a tale of love, family, prejudice, and most of all a struggle to build self-esteem in young children. Gia and Serena's relationship is at the center of this, and what appealed to me most was how the author used culture to express this self-image theme in a family that's been in more than one continent struggling to ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Definite 3.5!

In recent years, scientists have begun to research the role sibling relationships play on in shaping individual personalities, positing that the sibling relationship may be as strong, if not stronger, than the parental relationship in shaping who we are and how we behave. At the heart of Taslim Burkowicz’ novel The Desirable Sister is the complicated and intricate connection between the Pirji sisters - Gia and Serena - and how that connection, both consciously and unconsciously, c
Kate Lynn
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Woman In Time
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
What drew me to this book was the concept of two women of color – sisters from the same cultural background, who went to the same schools, and lived in the same neighborhood – who experience life so differently because of the shade of their skin. Burkowicz shows how much these women’s personalities, thought processes, and decisions are a response to society’s repeated reaction to their appearance. What impacted me most was how deeply Serena’s decisions were motivated by a self-hatred that had be ...more
Samhita Argula
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
The book is very different from its description. It actually entails a story more advanced than what the blurb reads.

A story about the lives of two Indo-Canadian sisters set worlds apart due to colourism, which produces sibling rivalry.

The plotline developed very unpredictably, even up until the climax, which will throw you off course. I feel the story digressed from the main plot quite a bit. Overall, it is a good book and a fast read.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Desirable Sister is beautifully written.

Two sisters from one family with one difference; the colour of their skin. This story follows Gia and Serena's journey through life each with their own struggles.

Gia, the white sister who is considered more beautiful struggles to relate to her own family and desperately clutches to her heritage to prove her Indian background. Serena, who is brown, desperately lives in the shadow of Gia who, in her own eyes, she considers more beautiful, and is envious
Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this enlightening book! My review may contain spoilers!

I chose to read The Desirable Sister based on the concept: two Indian sisters, one light-skinned and one dark-skinned, navigate life as children of immigrants. As an Indo-Canadian immigrant herself, the author does an amazing job of exploring the nuances of identity for the two women. While Serena struggles to overcome the colorism that renders her less desirable, Gia fights to e
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it

I read The Desirable Sister (courtesy of an ARC) about three or four weeks ago on a lazy Saturday, but held out on writing a review until now. There were things about both sisters (in each generation) that I adored and hated. I don't know how many times I screamed in my head: JUST TELL HER WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU, MOM; TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD(S) AND HOW IT AFFECTED YOU!! For any of the Indian women representing different generations
Margaret Duke-Wyer
My interest was piqued by the premise of this book – two sisters with about a year’s difference in age, brought up in the same cultural and social background, both described as beautiful but with one difference: the colour of their skin. Part of an Indian family living in Canada, Gia is white and Serene is brown. From the outset Serene was considered less because of her skin colour even by her mother, but certainly by the extended Indian community. So Serene grows up acutely aware of this differ ...more
May 31, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020-reads
I was conflicted on how to rate this book because I generally enjoyed it. It kept me engage with its new and changing developments. This book follows two Indo-Canadian sisters, Serena and Gia. Gia has fair skin while Serena has darker skin, and their lives are seemingly shaped by this. This book takes us on a journey across continents, decades, starting with the lives of their parents, and tackles what seems like every social issue. While this was good in keeping me engaged, it was a lot.

Robin (ReadItRobi)
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a sneek peak at this wonderful story! The Desirable Sister offers a look at the way prejudice plays out even within a particular race and across society as a whole. Never over done, Taslim Burkowicz's realistic look at the antagonistic relationship between two sisters shows all too well how shades of color impact every area of our lives, even without us realizing it.

Gia and Serena were so well written, that I felt sisterly towards them both and at times
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
The Desirable Sister wouldn’t be describe as an “enjoyable” read, but it is a compelling read. The Desirable Sisters is about two sisters and the way beauty standards can impact a relationship. Serena, the younger sister, looks Indian and her older sister Gia looks white living in Canada. Their appearance has massive impacts their perception of self, their sense of cultural identity, and their relationship with each other. Taslim Burkowicz is a good writer but view points outside of the two sist ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book about sisters, their rivalry, jealousy and love. Born in Canada, but OF Indian background, Gia and Serena are close in age but different in personalities. Much of it is attributed to Gia’s whiteness as being valued more than Serena’s dark skin and the acceptances or rejections that stem from color. An incident visiting their aunt in India changes Gia, and with those misunderstood changes, Serena and Gia losE the closeness they had as young children. The book was well written, and the them ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Amazing read. This book explores the theme of colour which I believe Taslim Burkowicz did justice to. There are two sisters: one "white", the other, "dark" and this apparent difference leads to differences in the way of life and approach.
This theme thoroughly sheds light on the issues people of colour face today and everyone needs to read this book. Taslim pinpoints the fact that we are still humans despite how we look and first humans, before we are people of where we are from.
Kim Cavadel
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to reading this book, but I was left disappointed. Although, the storyline is good, I had trouble relating to the characters. The dialogue felt forced and awkward at times and I struggled to finish it.
Cynthia Rodrigues
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to be uploaded shortly
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rich in sensory experience. Heartwarming and devastating. Casts a light on the violence of colourism. Highly recommended.
Jul 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
Ah, this book sounded so promising - almost exactly like an Indian-Canadian version of one of my favorite books of the year, Mrs. Everything. It started out strong, and was not terrible up until the traumatic climax for one of the sisters, after which things really go off the rails.

Gia and Serena lose their identities and don’t feel like individuals - and there is hardly any focus on characters other than the two sisters. You get flashes of each sister’s life spaced out every few years, but you
Diane Dunn
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two sisters caught up in issues of race, skin tone and sibling rivalry dominate this storyline. An arranged marriage also comes between them when the groom chooses the other sister for his bride. Their lives ultimately take different paths as they grown up as immigrants in Vancouver.. Your loyalties move between both sisters as the stories develop but love underlies the relationship uniting them..

Thanks to Netgalley the author and publishers for an ARC of this book.
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Taslim Burkowicz’s work is inspired both by her Indo-Canadian heritage, as well as her global travels and experiences. Her first novel, Chocolate Cherry Chai, was listed on CBC Books’ 2017 Fall Preview list. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and education from Simon Fraser University. Taslim resides with her husband and three boys in Surrey, B.C., where she focuses on writing, runni ...more

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