Kate and her twin sister Violet were born with what they called “senses”-certain psychic abilities that they are aware no one else they know has. Throughout their difficult childhood, Kate runs from these abilities, while Vi embraces them. For Kate, her relationship with Vi is one of embarrassment due to Vi’s choices and lifestyle, but equally one of great need for the one person who really understood her.
Each chapter jumps between their childhood with a detached father and a mentally unstable mother, to many years later with Kate as a married mother of two young children and Vi a single woman experimenting with her sexuality and making her living as a psychic. Both live in the St. Louis area, and after the city experiences a freak earthquake, Vi is cast into the national spotlight when she predicts that another more devastating earthquake will hit the area soon. Kate is torn between wanting to ignore Vi’s predictions and any “senses” that may still be lingering inside herself, and dealing with the possibility that Vi is correct in her prediction and how to prepare her family.
I enjoyed how the family dynamics were portrayed in Sisterland. As she grows up, Kate thinks she will never want to end up in the same area as her family-she doesn’t want to end up where people will recognize her as Vi’s sister or as a witch, which was how she was portrayed throughout childhood. But in the end, family relationships prove stronger than any desire to escape the past.