- Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld was published in June 2013
- Publisher: Random House
- 397 pages
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld is not overly heavy, but still gives book clubs plenty to discuss.
Spoiler Warning: These book club discussion questions reveal important details about the story. Finish the book before reading on.
- Was this novel what you expected when you heard it was about psychic twins? Did you think the psychic senses were important to the story? Why or why not?
- Did you think Vi's earthquake prediction would come true? Did you want to keep reading to find out?
- Why do you think Kate and Vi were so different? Who did you relate with more? What did you like and dislike about each of them?
- Sittenfeld describes a number of different relationships -- siblings, marriages, friendships, parent-child. Did you think her descriptions were accurate? Which did you particularly like to see unfolding?
- Early on in the novel we get this scene with Jeremy and Kate: "'I'm leaning toward a chocolate-pistachio blend tonight,' Jeremy said, and I thought, as I did at least once a day, how lucky I was that he was my husband; it hadn't been a foregone conclusion that I would marry someone kind, because I hadn't understood how much it mattered" (42). Do you think Jeremy is a good husband? Was he justified in going to Denver? What did you think about the way he reacted to the news about Hank?
- When Kate makes Vi leave college, she reflects, "What I did -- making her go -- was justified more than it was necessary; it was defensible more than it was right" (110). Do you think she should have let Vi stay? Was Kate kind to Vi overall?
- At her wedding, Kate thinks, "it was seeing people interact from such separate parts of my life, of the life Jeremy and I now had together, that made me understand for the first time that a wedding was more than a party where you got married -- that I had indeed been too literal in gauging whether it was worth the expense" (246). Have you ever had this kind of experience at a celebration?
- When Kate decides to get rid of her senses, she says, "But burning that piece of paper did give me something, something that it's possible no one else had ever aspired to, which was grounds for doubting my own instincts. It gave me, inside the confines of my brain, plausible deniability" (297). Can you understand this sentiment? Why do you think her senses caused her so much anxiety?
- Did you relate to Kate's anxiety as a parent?
- Do you think Kate and Vi had a responsibility to use their senses for the greater good or was Kate justified in suppressing hers?
- On graduation night, Kate remembers feeling homesick and says, "Maybe my homesickness was a form of prescience because when I look back, it's the circumstances of this very car ride that I recognize as irretrievable: the experience of driving nowhere in particular with my sister, both of us seventeen years old, the open windows causing our hair to blow wildly; that feeling of being unencumbered; that confidence that our futures would unfold the way we wanted them to and our real lives were just beginning" (91). In what ways is this story about being encumbered and having (or not having) control of the future?
- Do you think their father should have shared that he had senses earlier in their lives? How might that have changed things for Kate and Vi?
- What do you think will happen with Gabe in the future? Do you think Jeremy and Kate made the right decision for their marriage and family?
- Rate Sisterland on a scale of 1 to 5.