Welcome to Branching Out, a new feature in which I'll occasionally read and review a non-YA book that I think will have appeal to fans of YA.
My Branching Out selection this time around is adult fiction:
by Curtis Sittenfeld
To be published by Random House
on June 25, 2013
Source: I received an e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss.
Summary (from Goodreads:) From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.
Why I chose this book: I enjoyed Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld's 2005 debut novel. With its teenaged narrator and coming of age themes, Prep is definitely a book that would appeal to adult readers of YA. Sisterland also has some themes that are beloved by YA readers, namely the sister relationships and the paranormal twist of the sister's psychic abilities.
My take: Sisterland is a fascinating story about love, science, and the paranomal. Twins Daisy and Violet have drastically different comfort levels with their psychic abilities. Vi embraced her gifts and gained minor notoriety as a psychic. Daisy chose a more pedestrian path. Now known as Kate -- her middle name -- she married a scientist who regards his wife's confessions of past psychic visions with bemusement.
But when Vi publicly predicts that a devastating earthquake will strike and is swept into an ever-escalating media circus, Kate must come to terms with some difficult truths about herself, such as her experience helping Vi locate a kidnapped boy years before, and her deepest feelings about her psychic gifts. Is Vi a visionary or a dangerous, self-deluded charlatan? Was Kate right to try to suppress her psychic abilities, or in doing so is she denying an important part of herself?
The story intertwines domestic tensions -- Kate's husband's career ambitions and her frustrations as a stay-at-home mom, the contrast between Kate's conventional married life and Vi's sudden decision to date women -- with conflicts between science and intuition. Kate, Vi, and Kate's friend Hank, a stay-at-home dad, are in the artistic/intuitive camp, while Kate's husband and Hank's wife are rational scientists and colleagues. As Vi makes the morning talk show circuit, the scientists insist that Vi is absolutely, positively, even dangerously wrong. Tension rises as the predicted date of the earthquake draws near. While the story's climactic event was a bit melodramatic, it was also perfectly set up by everything that preceded it and forced most of the characters to confront their differing ideas about the limits of love, faith, and science.
Try it if you liked:
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June, about a trio of sisters with paranormal abilities, is probably the most obvious YA comparison to Sisterland. It's more light in tone, but shares some of the same elements.
The Cahill Witch Chronicles (Born Wicked and Star Cursed) by Jessica Spotswood focuses more on the political implications of women with paranormal abilities, but the strained relationship between Maura and Cate did remind me a little of Daisy and Vi.
Have you read Prep or Sisterland? Or do you have any other paranormal sisters book recommendations?