I was first introduced to Curtis Sittenfeld’s work when I read her debut novel, Prep, written in 2005. I was drawn into the sometimes painful world of teenage girls; a coming-of-age story set in a private boarding school, full of intensely felt emotions and young identities in formation. I loved it.
Sisterland is different in all measurable ways. Instead of a 14-year-old protagonist, the story follows two adult sisters – twins – who have little in common except for the Extrasensory Perception that allows them both to see things slightly before they happen, to sense events on the horizon, to anticipate changes in their world. Far from the iron gates and manicured lawns of a New England prep school, sisters Kate and Violet have lived pretty much their entire lives in Missouri, despite attempts by both of them to leave.
When a minor earthquake hits St. Louis, Violet is struck by a vision of another to come. The earthquake, maybe. Kate, who has blocked her “senses” in favor of a normal life; a husband and children and no visions about those around her, starts to get pulled into the frenzy as national news covers the story of her sister’s premonition. As the date of the coming earthquake nears, Kate must come to terms with her and Violet’s shared ESP, and balance personal needs against those of her sister and her husband.
Though Prep and Sisterland share little in the way of plot and storyline, Sittenfeld’s superb writing and character building shine through in both. I’ll continue to read my way through her works!