Plot summary (from the publisher): Curtis Sittenfeld, author of American Wife and Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief.
From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- There’s just something about Sittenfeld’s writing style that I really enjoy. I can’t quite put my finger on it, as she’s not laugh-out-loud funny or particularly deep or anything like that. I guess her prose just sounds very natural to me.
- The parts about Kate and Vi’s schooldays were the ones I liked best. I think Sittenfeld does teenage angst fairly well.
- I thought the way Vi and Kate helped find that missing boy was interesting, too. I wouldn’t have minded more examples of how the girls used their “powers” for good, so to speak.
- Ugh, I absolutely hated the ending! Kate sooo did not deserve to have Jeremy stay with her (why would he even do that??) and have her life go on as usual. Sure, she made a bit thing about having to move away from her roots in St. Louis, but she was going to New York, not Arkansas or something. She should have been kicked to the curb after cheating and having another man’s baby!!!
- While the book started off fairly well and initially had me turning pages with interest, the momentum petered out rather quickly. Even during the height of the “action” with the earthquake stuff, I was tired of the characters and just ready for the whole thing to be over.
- Sittenfeld didn’t do stay-at-home dads any favors here. They’re already looked at as MILF bait, and having Hank put the moves on Kate (and father her baby) was kind of like saying, “Hey working women, be careful because your house husband/child caregiver WILL cheat if given the chance!”
- I had the feeling Vi was supposed to come off as some quirky-yet-loveable type, but the “loveable” part didn’t come through. The character was just annoying from beginning to end.
I’ve really liked some of Sittenfeld’s other books and was looking forward to Sisterland as well. But I just couldn’t relate to anything here: not the characters, not the location, not the circumstances, not the feelings and temptations. Still, the writing was strong enough and the author had built up enough goodwill for me to give this 3 stars out of 5.