“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.” – Korede about her sister Ayoola in My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Nigeria, West Africa. A little sister who, literally, gets away with murder. That’s Ayoola. An older sister that complains about her little sister’s behavior, but enables it. That’s Korede.
Ayoola doesn’t have a job. She has no idea how to cook or bake, not even at the basics-you-should-know-just-to-keep-yourself-alive-level of cooking. She never considers the thoughts or feelings of those around her. And she repeatedly has to kill her boyfriends in proclaimed self-defense, acts she begs her older sister to help her clean and cover up.
“Maybe she is reaching out because she has sent another man to his grave prematurely. Or maybe she wants to know if I can buy eggs on the way home. Either way, I’m not picking up.” – Korede about Ayoola in My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Except Korede always, in one way or another, does “pick up” and help her sister. She complains and worries over Ayoola’s psychopathic behavior, but she never does much to prevent it from happening again. Why? Because blood is thicker than water? That certainly plays a role in the story, especially when considering some instances of abuse that happened to the sisters when they were children. There seems to be more to it than that, though.
Korede repeatedly comments on Ayoola’s good looks, fashion sense, and alluring ways. She also often bemoans how these things allow Ayoola to be irresponsible.
“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.” – Korede about Ayoola in My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Yet, Korede gives her sister “a pass at life,” too. Always defending her and staying by her side, even when it is madness to do so.
Which leaves me to think Oyinkan Braithwaite‘s My Sister, the Serial Killer is a satire using dark humor and exaggeration to point out society’s obsession with outward appearances. Sure, most of us wouldn’t go along with murder because someone is attractive, BUT we’ve certainly gone along with something we shouldn’t have. None of us are innocent.
If we’re honest with ourselves, what have we done or not done because we were impressed by someone else’s outward appearance? Let them get away with cruel words? Assigned them extra value as a human being? Took their opinion more seriously than we should have? I could go on and on with possibilities.
These actions make no logical sense as a response to someone’s good looks, but the human heart isn’t always logical. We’re all guilty of these or similar transgressions at some point in our lives, and as we see in this novel, these misdeeds are absurd.
Our goal then should not be to deny and hide the ugly behavior like Korede and Ayoola, but to acknowledge our mistakes and to learn from them. We should strive to always be less influenced by the external and more influenced by the internal – no matter how hard our beauty obsessed society may make that to be.
Thoughts? About the satirical nature of this book or otherwise? Let me know in the comments below!