Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld

This is another one of those books where the story was genuinely compelling, but I did not love the main character. At times, I almost felt that Sittenfeld was mocking her own creation, Kate Tucker. I think the part that got me the most was the ritual she needed each night before she could go to bed. Never once have I prepared a diaper bag and left it at the front door (not to mention the cell phone, plugged in beside it so it would not be forgotten.) Perhaps there are people who do this; I just don’t know them. As far as I could tell, Kate’s entire day consisted of going to the park with her two kids, and then getting home in time for their naps. I get that she had a scare when Rosie was sick as an infant, but are we supposed to read more into this, and feel extra sympathy? Call me a cynic, but I had a hard time with that. It was strange for me, because she got so much about motherhood right in this book, at least for me. Her descriptions of life pre-and-post babies is so spot on; absolutely hilarious and utterly depressing.

 

In any case, I did like this book. I especially liked the awkward growing up years for Daisy (later “Kate”) and her identical twin Vi, and how they grappled with having “senses”. Their family life was disturbing, but also somehow normal and refreshing. They were all odd in their own ways; Kate just hid it better than the rest of them. The main characters in this book had depth for the most part, though at times it seemed the author stooped to stereotypes and generalities — hyper-ambitious women, extremely devoted husbands, stay-at-home dads, etc. For the drama that unfolded in this book, the ending was pretty much unbelievable. I think it’s a true testament to Sittenfeld’s skill as an author that I still liked the book, despite the almost cringe-worthy ending.