Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sisterland and Veggie Lo Mein

Sisterland and Veggie Lo Mein

Saturday, August 23, 2014

While I enjoyed it, Sisterland is my least favorite of Curtis Sittenfeld's books.  Her first book "Prep" was an engrossing memoir-like novel about the adolescent experience and "American Wife" was the witty, bold novelization of Laura Bush's story.  With Sisterland, Sittenfeld brings us Daisy and Violent Tucker - adolescent twins of distant parents in a St. Louis suburb.  
Daisy (who later changes her name to Kate) is the steady boring twin while Vi is irreverent, overweight, and slightly out of control.   The novel is told from Kate's perspective as a young adult, married with two young children, with plenty of time revisiting the girls youth and adolescence which fundamentally shaped their adult identities.  
The problem I had with the novel is that Sittenfeld chose to focus on the more sedate, less interesting sister.  This resulted in book with some real lulls, especially in the middle.    That said, Sittenfeld certainly brought the drama at the end, bringing some life and oomph to the book in the final pages.   This simple veggie a lo mein, while seemingly boring like Kate, is a great weeknight staple with a lot of flavor, and it is a dish Kate eats on the night she decides to let herself lose a little control.

Sisterland, by Curtis Sisterland, tells the tales of twins who are seemingly opposites - Kate is a mainstream, organized and seemingly well-balanced mother of two young children, with an understanding and supportive husband.  Vi is a bit of a drifter, she is messy, a little overweight and makes her living as a psychic.  Yup, you heard that right, a psychic.  
As it turns out, both Kate and Vi have "the sight" - they have been able to sense the future and hidden things since they were children.  It is this special power that has caused problems in Kate's life yet given Vi her identity.  The girls grew up the only children of a St. Louis couple - their father many years older than their mother.  
When the girls are on the eve of adolescence their mother essentially takes to her bed and they are left to fend for themselves.  Close as children, it is at this pre-teen age when their paths diverge.   
At that age when girls start being mean to each other, the differences between Kate and Vi are magnified.  Kate is slim and pretty enough to run with the popular girls.  Vi is quirky, and refuses to adhere to pre-teen girl norms.  At a sleep over at the most popular girl's house, Kate lets her inner seer come through, making a prediction that will cause her to be ostracized and pushed to the outside 

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