Though Sisterland seems to be a novel about twins and their paranormal sensitivity, I found it foremost to be a novel about not taking things for granted. In Sisterland twins Vi and Kate (original name Daisy) are born with paranormal sensitivity. Whereas flamboyant Vi embraces her powers and turns them into a living, Kate chooses to ignore them and lead a life as normal as possible. It is fair to say that she is kind of judgmental when it comes to her twin. Vi did not finish her college education, Vi did not marry and have children, Vi is the twin she has to watch in order to prevent silly things from happening. And then Vi predicts an earthquake in their hometown St. Louis. All of a sudden all attention is directed at VI, especially when she, after a ‘sense’ from Kate, announces to the world that the earthquake will take place on October 16th. Though the earthquake sets things in motion, it’s not the main subject of Sisterland. The relationship between Vi and Kate, their childhood memories growing up with an aloof father and a depressed mother, learning to trust and distrust their senses, meeting boy friends, girl friends and potential husbands, is central in the novel.
An earthquake does take place, in the physical and the relational world. This latter earthquake shakes the worlds of Vi and Kate in an unexpected way. Vi predicting the earthquake seems to be putting her on the path of being the laughing stock of the nation, actually all the media attention, all the people wanting something from her, make her realize what she cherishes most in life: her work, her new love Stephanie and her family. Kate on the other hand cannot control the effects of the earthquake. She starts doubting herself, her senses, questioning whether she should use them, confronting her husband when he leaves for a conference and leaving her alone with the children to face the 16th. She loses her grip and endangers her marriage. Kate has to face the fact that her trying to escape from her senses and lead a normal, suburban life does not rescue her from making mistakes. Life is about mistaking mistakes and trying to figure out what is the truth behind the things you feel, experience and hear. There is not one right and wrong way, there are just choices people make. And facing the consequences of those choices.
Sisterland isn’t an earthquake. It is a well written, nice novel. It did not ‘rock’ my literary world.