"Sisterland" (Random House), by Curtis Sittenfeld
To characterize Curtis Sittenfeld's new novel, "Sisterland," as an ideal beach read isn't meant as an insult. The author of "American Wife," a fantastic account of a protagonist clearly modeled after Laura Bush who ascends from a small town in Wisconsin to the White House, is a skilled storyteller.
Her new novel isn't as sappy as the jacket description implies. It's the story of identical twins -- Kate and Violet -- who are raised by an emotionally absent father and a depressed mother and share the gift (or curse) of "senses" or an ability to see people's secrets and events before they happen.
While one sister embraces the gift and uses it to her advantage both socially and financially, the other sister hides it and consciously ignores it.
Sittenfeld delivers a well-told, compelling story about characters so real they settle into your psyche like old friends. The relationships between the sisters and between Kate and her husband, Jeremy, feel both loving and realistic.
It's a novel about growing up, making big choices and living with mistakes and regrets.
It's not perfect -- Sittenfeld asks her readers to suspend disbelief more than once and swallow circumstances and situations that seem unlikely to happen in real life -- but it's a fast, smooth, guilt-free read.
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