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2019 TOB Shortlist Books > My Sister, the Serial Killer

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This one wins for quirkiest entry, right?


message 2: by Sduff222 (new)

Sduff222 | 8 comments I enjoyed this one! Though I read it very quickly, as an ebook, so I'm not sure how much detail I retained. It didn't really go in the direction I thought it would. (Are we allowed to talk about spoilers in this thread?)


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments you are definitely allowed to discuss spoilers but we do ask that you warn folks or use the SPOILER html trick (see the "some html is ok" link on comments). In general we assume people talking about the book here have read it but there will be folks at various stages along the way.


message 4: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 441 comments I just finished it and LOVED it! I would love to read more of her work. I particularly loved the last 20 pages or so. It'll definitely be an interesting one in the tournament since it has such a lighthearted feel but I think still has some depth to it.


message 5: by Navi (new)

Navi (nvsahota) | 8 comments I started listening to this on audio today. I'm enjoying it so far!


message 6: by Ruthiella (new)

Ruthiella | 340 comments I would definitely give this book an honorable mention for best title!

I liked it. It was highly entertaining. But for all its seriousness about serial killing (and child abuse), etc., I found it a little too light. I don't think it will stick with me.


message 7: by Lljones (new)

Lljones | 172 comments Tina wrote: "This one wins for quirkiest entry, right?"

Quirkiest I've read so far. I like quirky.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Ruthiella wrote: "I would definitely give this book an honorable mention for best title!

I liked it. It was highly entertaining. But for all its seriousness about serial killing (and child abuse), etc., I found it..."


I liked it, too. I suppose it's a mark of a talented writer—to give a light feel to such heavy topics, and without a hint of humor. I'm impressed.


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 29, 2018 01:15PM) (new)

Lljones wrote: "Quirkiest I've read so far. I like quirky."

Me too! : )
I'm hoping this will be the little book that can of the 2019 ToB. I predict an opening round upset!


message 10: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 168 comments Man, this was a fast read. Her short chapters just propelled me right through this one. I agree the light tone sometimes did this book a disservice but I ultimately really enjoyed it. There was some interesting commentary on the options for women in such a corrupt, patriarchal society (that moment Korede is in her car and the cop tries to open her door--oh NO), which I appreciated. And I never would have picked it up without ToB.


message 11: by Mina (new)

Mina (minaphillips) | 43 comments Hoping to cram this one in before the New Year.


message 12: by Dustin (last edited Jan 03, 2019 07:42AM) (new)

Dustin (dusty3302) | 30 comments SPOILERS AHEAD:

Like others have said, this was a quick little book . This is my first completed book from the shortlist. I sat down after work yesterday and unexpectedly ended up reading the entire thing. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was initially worried that such a heavy subject would be tough to tackle in such a short read but I think it speaks to the skill of Oyinkan that she was able to pull it off.

I'm a little bit conflicted on some aspects of the story, maybe I just need more time with it? For example, was Ayoola actually a sociopath? She sure seems to be presented that way with her indifference and self-centered personality. However, it seems to me that, regardless of what she says, she is using the favorite item of her abusive father, his knife, to "punish" men. Why else would Oyinkan make the daughter's past with their father a significant part of the story?

It's also heavily implied that Ayoola's father essentially attempted to sell her virginity to that chief guy, which would explain some of the possible intimacy problems Ayoola has and how she lashes out when her relationships get too serious.

I dunno, I think that it's easy to pass this book off as not being too deep of a read, but the more I mull it over the more questions I have about it. I would love to sit down with Oyinkan and asked her some questions. Overall, I'm very happy this was included in the tournament. Off to begin Warlight...


message 13: by Janet (new)

Janet (justjanet) | 634 comments To me, it's clear that Ayoola is a misandrist....but I think when it crosses the line to murder, it's considered psychopathy, not sociopathy. The question you are asking is "was it justified?"


message 14: by Dustin (new)

Dustin (dusty3302) | 30 comments Janet wrote: "To me, it's clear that Ayoola is a misandrist....but I think when it crosses the line to murder, it's considered psychopathy, not sociopathy. The question you are asking is "was it justified?""

Thanks for the response and I see what you're saying. I went with sociopath because they tend to act on impulse as opposed to psychopaths who tend to be more methodical. Ayoola herself tries to make it sound like her murderous intentions are impulsive or caught up in the situation, but it's very possible that she is lying and her actions are far more intentional. The old phrase, "psychopaths are born, sociopaths are made" popped into my mind while reading this, however, I think both could be used to describe Ayoola based off of the information Oyinkan chooses to include in the story.


The more I think about this story, the more I'm liking it.


message 15: by Peggy (new)

Peggy | 168 comments Yes, this book is sticking with me, too.

I also think the book is asking us to consider Korede's role in the creation of Ayoola. It is strongly implied that the sisters, led by Korede, decided to kill their father and subsequently watched him die. In the present, Ayoola likes to kill her boyfriends and watch them die. So did Korede create/unleash this monstrous part of Ayoola? Is that one of the reasons she protects her?

I appreciate the gray areas this book embraces.


message 16: by Noa (new)

Noa (nsing) | 18 comments I pre-ordered the ebook based on it being part of the ToB shortlist and it came today.....started the book at 2 p.m., done at 5 p.m.....wow. Loved the pacing, the gray areas, the female characters...really enjoyed it.....it's my 3rd book on the list.....read There There (another one I really enjoyed) and So Lucky.....hoping the next one is as enjoyable. Guess I'm into quirky..;)


message 17: by Lljones (new)

Lljones | 172 comments I just noticed that Powell's has this included MStSK on its
"Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Graphic Novels of 2018".

Does anyone agree with that categorization?


message 18: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments Lljones wrote: "I just noticed that Powell's has this included MStSK on its
"Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Graphic Novels of 2018".

Does anyone agree with that categorization?"

Wow...I sure wouldn't.


message 19: by Dianah (new)

Dianah (fig2) | 255 comments Lljones wrote: "I just noticed that Powell's has this included MStSK on its
"Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Graphic Novels of 2018".

Does anyone agree with that categorization?"


It's likely an error on the website. It's shelved in lit at the stores.


message 20: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 61 comments Peggy wrote: "Yes, this book is sticking with me, too.

I also think the book is asking us to consider Korede's role in the creation of Ayoola. It is strongly implied that the sisters, led by Korede, decided to..."


I totally agree about the gray areas. This book is much more thought provoking than one would think given the light hearted tone. I found Korede to be the much more interesting sister.

(view spoiler)
This one has definitely stayed with me and I hate that it is up against The Overstory in the first round.


message 21: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 51 comments Rachelnyc, re: your spoiler:

(view spoiler)


message 22: by Rachelnyc (new)

Rachelnyc | 61 comments Natalie wrote: "Rachelnyc, re: your spoiler:

[spoilers removed]"


I think you're exactly right. So impressive how much is happening between the lines in this deceptively quick read.


message 23: by Gayla (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) | 156 comments I have to say, I did not find this a light book at all -- I thought it was pretty dark! I was expecting a satire but I though it was more complicated than that.

(view spoiler)


message 24: by Erin (new)

Erin Glover (erinxglover) | 101 comments I'm just going to throw this out there. I felt this was a women's empowerment book. Korede was just as guilty as Ayoola. She never informed the authorities. She outright lied and covered up Ayoola's crimes. And it's Korede's idea to (view spoiler) I think on around page 80, this actually occurs. Although it's unclear who did it, most likely it's Ayoola with her father's cane since Korede is under him.

To me, they are two sisters out to take down a patriarchal society, one man at a time. Yes, it's satire, but it's got a strong feminist arc and a rebellion against a society that only sees women for how pretty they are.


message 25: by Jen (new)

Jen | 125 comments Erin wrote: "I'm just going to throw this out there. I felt this was a women's empowerment book. Korede was just as guilty as Ayoola. She never informed the authorities. She outright lied and covered up Ayoola'..."

I completely agree with your assessment Erin, this is how I read it too. This book blew me away for being so slight and comedic, but also packing a huge feminist punch.

This and Milkman are far and away the strongest I've read from the shortlist so far.


message 26: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments Erin wrote: "I'm just going to throw this out there. I felt this was a women's empowerment book. Korede was just as guilty as Ayoola. She never informed the authorities. She outright lied and covered up Ayoola'..."

I felt those undertones, too, Erin. I'm not sure I'd use the same terms to describe it (empowerment), but I definitely saw that men valuing women primarily for looks and "purpose" ultimately resulted in derision and death for them. I'm still trying to decide the purpose of coma guy in this story. He also became complicit after being used as a confidant, which kind of made him a good guy, according to the values being portrayed. Any thoughts on this one...anyone?


message 27: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments Gayla wrote: "I have to say, I did not find this a light book at all -- I thought it was pretty dark! I was expecting a satire but I though it was more complicated than that.

I was not sure I believed her either, Gayla. She was not trustworthy.



message 28: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments Gayla wrote: "I have to say, I did not find this a light book at all -- I thought it was pretty dark! I was expecting a satire but I though it was more complicated than that.

[spoilers removed]"


She also was responsible for what Tade believed, and may have done that deliberately to set the stage to justify what she planned to do all along.


message 29: by Ruthiella (last edited Feb 05, 2019 02:28PM) (new)

Ruthiella | 340 comments Carmel wrote: "Erin wrote: "I'm just going to throw this out there. I felt this was a women's empowerment book. Korede was just as guilty as Ayoola. She never informed the authorities. She outright lied and cover..."

Coma guy was an opportunity for Korede to exit the loop of her terrible family. He knew everything and seemed to appreciate Korede for who she was and was not impressed or won over by Alooya.


message 30: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments Ruthiella wrote: "Carmel wrote: "Erin wrote: "I'm just going to throw this out there. I felt this was a women's empowerment book. Korede was just as guilty as Ayoola. She never informed the authorities. She outright..."

Very true. And she seemed to be an outlet for him as well, and his own questionable family. I just found that segment fascinating, and his choices surprising. Thanks!


Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 94 comments I enjoyed this one very much, and was very impressed by Braithwaite's craft -- I think it is hard to write a novel that seems so true about the psychology around these things, and yet to keep the tone light and engaging. I think it is my favourite so far, although I still have a lot of the shortlist to go.

I thought coma man was both a possible escape and a painful reminder of how there is no real escape -- he did seem to appreciate Korede for who she was, but he knew her secrets so would always have power over, plus (as the narrative reminds us with the scene of his wife crying in the hall), any marriage would put her in someone else's power.


message 32: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments Carmel wrote: "Erin wrote: "I'm just going to throw this out there. I felt this was a women's empowerment book. Korede was just as guilty as Ayoola. She never informed the authorities. She outright lied and cover..."

This book seems so light and 'fluffy' (if you can say that about a book with 'serial killer' in the title) and yet there are these wonderful moments that serve as linchpins for the rest; I loved the moment that Korede asks the doctor what he likes best about her sister and his answer is such crap. She sort of wakes up and realizes that 1) he's not worth it & 2) maybe Ayoola was on to something in her assessment of him. A man valuing the sister who looks like a doll and only makes him feel good cause she's so pretty (it's certainly not her treatment of him!) is a part of the patriarchy problem - it undermines the value of all women when they receive no value apart from beauty. I might have begun rooting for him to die at that point.

My sympathies were deftly handled by this debut author!


message 33: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments A man valuing the sister who looks like a doll and only makes him feel good cause she's so pretty (it's certainly not her treatment of him!) is a part of the patriarchy problem - it undermines the value of all women when they receive no value apart from beauty. I might have begun rooting for him to die at that point.

Here, here and amen! And that made me chuckle!


message 34: by Elizabeth (last edited Feb 16, 2019 03:57PM) (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 766 comments Amy wrote: "She sort of wakes up and realizes that 1) he's not worth it & 2) maybe Ayoola was on to something in her assessment of him. A man valuing the sister who looks like a doll and only makes him feel good cause she's so pretty (it's certainly not her treatment of him!) is a part of the patriarchy problem - it undermines the value of all women when they receive no value apart from beauty. I might have begun rooting for him to die at that point."

Yes, Korede also began seeing him for what he was. A couple of thoughts I'll put in a spoiler, as well as a question.

(view spoiler)


message 35: by Mindy (new)

Mindy Jones (mindyrecycles) | 56 comments (view spoiler)


message 36: by Bryn (Plus Others) (last edited Feb 17, 2019 12:53PM) (new)

Bryn (Plus Others) (brynplusplus) | 94 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote:

(view spoiler)


(view spoiler)


message 37: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 766 comments Thank you, Mindy. I somehow completely missed that! Tricky of the author. :)

Bryn, (view spoiler)


message 38: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Oertel | 832 comments The library wait on this book was long, but I'm glad I decided to sign up for Audible for a few months to get this one. It was great! I loved the themes and "lightness" for these serious subjects.

I also find the sociopath vs. psychopath discussion above interesting. Figuring out the different paths that lead to murder and addressing the underlying causes of violence is fascinating for me (as I work in criminal justice advocacy). This book adds a unique perspective to that topic and I'm glad it's part of the tournament!


message 39: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 236 comments I devoured the whole thing yesterday and just loved it all.

I'm going to be FULL OF UNTAGGED SPOILERS since we're so close to the judgement now.

I didn't think she had any doubt that Tade was telling the truth about the encounter - she just wanted him to shut up as they got Ayoola to the ER so she wouldn't make her wound worse. It was never really a question, with her, whether Ayoola was being truthful or not - her only job (as her mom said when Ayoola was born) was to protect her sister.

I think we saw her subsume her disappointment about so much of her life, and the stress of protecting Ayoola, with the obsessive cleaning and internet stalking. She couldn't stop trying to get at some kind of truth of the matter, but never let herself just turn her sister over for punishment. She had to do the one job everyone expected of her, no matter what. Both because of the weight of everyone's expectations (made worse because she was *so pretty* and who wouldn't want to take care of someone so precious as that??), and because she'd instigated the killings with her need to follow that One Dictate Of Her Life and protect Ayoola from the fate her father had in store.

But oh, she hated that One Dictate. She hated how Ayoola got asked out on her first day of school, and how the moment she showed up at the hospital everyone was enchanted, and how fruitless her love for Tade became. And how easily she, too, was manipulated by her sister - by her learned helplessness, her 'only my sister can help me' ploys, her 'here's a gift and by the way don't mention how I murdered a bunch of men' blasé chatter.

Anyway, I'll probably repeat myself in the commentariat, but I am so eager to discuss this book and delighted it exists.


message 40: by Carmel (new)

Carmel Hanes | 130 comments Melanie wrote: "I devoured the whole thing yesterday and just loved it all.

I'm going to be FULL OF UNTAGGED SPOILERS since we're so close to the judgement now.

I didn't think she had any doubt that Tade was tel..."


It was a fascinating study of human nature, yes? And to think people categorize it under "horror" in some places. If that is the case, perhaps I should relent with my refusal to read horror? :)


message 41: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 11 comments So nice to read that so many people enjoyed this book too! I really loved it and read it in one sitting.
Though a hard and difficult subject, the characters feel very believable. However, at the end of the book, I felt despair about the unchangability of things....


message 42: by Bretnie (new)

Bretnie | 441 comments I am scared for tomorrow. Both if it loses, and both if people dismiss it as a lightly fluffy book.


message 43: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 766 comments Claire wrote: "So nice to read that so many people enjoyed this book too! I really loved it and read it in one sitting.
Though a hard and difficult subject, the characters feel very believable. However, at the en..."


Yes, but don't you think it was the best possible ending? If (view spoiler)


message 44: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 236 comments Haunting! Yes, indeed! Every path was a trap.


message 45: by Claire (last edited Mar 13, 2019 05:30PM) (new)

Claire  | 11 comments Elizabeth Arnold wrote: "Yes, but don't you think it was the best possible ending? If . ..."

I agree it is indeed one of the best possible endings, but what felt so sad was that it all was so inevitable... No real choice. Haunting indeed...


message 46: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Arnold | 766 comments Has anybody mentioned Shirley Jackson? The ending feels very Shirley Jackson to me.


message 47: by Amy (new)

Amy (asawatzky) | 1655 comments Gasp! Elizabeth you’re so right!


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