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My Sister My Love

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  3,402 ratings  ·  490 reviews
When a beautiful, ice-skating child prodigy is found brutally murdered, suspicion mounts against friends, neighbours, and even the young girl's own family. Told from the point of view of the dead girl's brother, 'My Sister, My Love' explores the darkest corners of the human psyche, and takes the reader into a twisted world. ...more
Paperback, 562 pages
Published 2010 by Fourth Estate (first published 2008)
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Peggy I am reading it on a kobo and can't zoom in or adjust the font large enough to see. I have no idea what that letter from Betsy to Skyler said!!…moreI am reading it on a kobo and can't zoom in or adjust the font large enough to see. I have no idea what that letter from Betsy to Skyler said!!(less)

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Average rating 3.52  · 
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Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars. I pretty much like all of her sad books however this one was a challenge. Overall I liked it but it seemed like there was a lot of rambling on going on.
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Talia Carner
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Tina Cipolla
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Oct 05, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009january
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
Larry Bassett
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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,
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this back in 2009 and I really think the plot was based on the Jon Benet Ramsey murder. I really wonder if it is. 🤔
Mademoiselle Bouquine
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's one thing I'm learning for sure. Joyce Carol Oates never disappoints.
Shortly after finishing the astonishing, must-read, life-changing Blonde, I felt the need to dive again into Oates' prose, into her twisted mind and dark stories, and I happened to randomly find one of her novels upon a stack of books at my bookstore.

And so I began reading My Sister, My Love.

And oh, my.
That lady is crazy.

The novel is basically the testimony of nineteen-year-old Skyler, whose sister was found brutally
Jan 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My Sister, My Love read like one painful, exhausting marathon. Skyler Rampike, the 19-year-old narrator, sought to make sense of the mystery surrounding his sister’s death. Six-year-old Bliss, a child prodigy skater, was found murdered in her home. The murder case was never solved and Bliss’s death plunged the family into tabloid hell and irrevocable dysfunction. Betsy and Bix Rampike were portrayed almost stereotypically as self-seeking and pretentious upper middle class parents who wanted to l ...more
May 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Fiona Marie
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once I figured out that JCO loosely based this novel on the tragic death of Jon Benet Ramsey and media blitz/persecution of the family, I wasn't sure if this was going to be my idea of fun reading...well, I was right, it wasn't very fun, but following the story of Skyler Rampike (who is fleshed out wonderfully by Ms. Oates) you really get a feel for what he has had to go through to survive. Skyler is the elder brother of Bliss Rampike, a six year old figure skater who is murdered and he and the ...more
Judy Croome
Feb 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Frida Hultgren
This book took me forever to read. I constantly had to put it down to read other things. It didn't interest me. I'm glad I finished it, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It was weirdly written with footnotes and unmotivated phrases. It was overall a very unlikely story and I predicted the ending early on.

Too much description and sentences that sometimes lasted over half a page made this book into a drag and got me into the biggest reading slump I've had in years. It was 650 pages long in t
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This felt like a real slog, but one that was absolutely worthwhile. Even at the sloggiest points, I enjoyed the work and didn’t want to give up on the book, which is saying something considering I felt pretty low at parts of the reading of this.

I think the laboriousness (sorry, probably another made-up word) of the language and plot was absolutely intended as a way of giving the reader some insight into the chaos contained in Skyler’s mind - and who can blame the poor kid? It was done exception
Hannah Paige
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heart-wrenching account of the upper crust in America. It is with this masterpiece of brave writing, of atypical form, and of a critical eye for the destruction that vanity and the projection of dreams on our children has on the family unit that I see the genius of Joyce Carol Oates. My new favorite work of hers takes “keeping up with the Jones’” to a bitter and irreparable position of desperation.
Melinda Swinney
Jul 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is both strange and disturbing. I sped read it and couldn’t believe the content of this book. Disappointing that an author would profit from a real life twisted tragedy. Bizarre and literally one of the worst books I’ve ever given my time to.
I bought this book for $1 at a bargain bookstore. I want my money back.
Dj Armacost
Really enjoyed Skyler's voice but not my favorite JCO. I thought she could've cut out 200 pages somewhere in the middle, though I did find the ending satisfying. I can definitely understand those folks who might have gave up halfway through, because it's a very long book and not exactly a page turner. ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Stind
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2008
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
Don Mitchell
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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