“You know, men are very fickle. Give them what they want and they will do anything for you. Keep your hair long and glossy or invest in good weaves; cook for him and send the food to his home and his office. Stroke his ego in front of his friends and treat them well for his sake…Do these things and he will put a ring on your finger, fast fast.”
Why Did I Read This Book?
I was gifted this as part of my book exchange that I did with my friend a few weeks ago. It has been sitting on my book cart ever since and I thought it is a better time than ever to be reading books written by Black authors.
To be honest, my reading has always been diversified but there are so many amazing BAME authors out there that I had no idea about until people raised awareness. I suppose that just shows that the content bloggers post can really make a difference to someone’s education and reading. So for those that are raising awareness of these books and authors, keep ’em coming!
What Did I Think?
What I L-O-V-E-D most about this book is its short chapters. It really add pace and panic to the story, and for the most part, the quick chapters help you consume this book in under a day. I probably could have read this in one night had I fought harder against falling asleep.
If you are unaware of what this book is about, well basically the title says it all. It is about an incredibly beautiful young girl in Nigeria, named Ayoode, who every man seems to fall in love with. However, something always leads to her killing the men that she dates. Accidentally, or as an act of self-defence, so she claims.
We follow her sister, Kerode (who is also out narrator) as she works tirelessly to clean up the mess that Ayoode creates, as well as witnessing her internal battle against doing what is right to save these men and doing what is right to save her sister.
I think Oyinkan Braithwaite has created a literary sensation with this book, and it is no wonder that it was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Braithwaite is extremely clever in the way she introduces and explores a magnitude of themes, ranging from male dominance and fickleness to domestic violence and the power of women’s beauty.
I absolutely HATED the character of Ayooda. I have come across some girls who remind me very much of Ayooda and they have made my blood boil as much as she does. Ayooda knows she is beautiful (probably because she is told by everyone who meets her) and she uses this to play people. She never gives much thought to how her behaviour makes people feel and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her poor sister, Kerode, has spent her whole life sticking up for her sister, and Ayoode doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit grateful or thankful for it.
However, as much as you hate her, you do kind of have to admire her too. Men are depicted as both powerful and weak in this novel. Characters like their father show how men can basically do whatever they want and their wives will still be there every day because it is deemed shameful for a woman to separate from her marriage. His power is also shown in many other ways too, particularly violence.
Yet Ayooda plays upon the weakness of men. How these men she meets are only interested in dating a beautiful girl and will do anything to win over her affection. When Tade buys Ayooda a huge bouquet of orchids, Ayooda simply texts him saying that she prefers roses. Not a thank you in sight. Yet later that day, a huge bouquet of roses is sent to the house. Ayooda knows how to play men and use her beauty to get what she wants. Because she is beautiful, no suspects that she is a serial killer or would even blame her if they did. This is why I have to admire her.
“It’s because she is beautiful, you know. That’s all it is. They don’t really care about the rest of it. She gets a pass at life.”
What I also found interesting was the author’s note at the end of the book. Oyinkan Braithwaite discusses how there is still pressure for African writers to speak for a whole continent. The idea that writers can represent a universal Nigerian experience is a chimera, when a universal Nigerian experience simply doesn’t exist, much like how a universal white experience does not exist.
However, she also states that within the community, ‘Africans are hungry for different types of stories. They want crime, they want more fantasy, more sci-fi or whatever.’ Braithwaite claims that ‘Nigerian readers are looking for something a little different’, and hopefully My Sister, The Serial Killer is just that.