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Literature / Sisterland

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Sisterland is a 2013 novel by Curtis Sittenfeld. Kate Tucker and her identical twin Violet Shramm were both born with Psychic Powers, but while Vi has embraced her abilities and become a professional medium, Kate has suppressed hers and become an ordinary housewife. But after a minor earthquake hits St. Louis, Vi predicts that more serious earthquakes will occur in the future, and appears on television to warn as many people as possible. A few days later, Kate herself wakes up with the date October 16 in her head, which both twins think will be the date of the earthquake. As the date approaches, the publicity throws Kate's life of carefully cultivated normalcy into turmoil.

Sisterland contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: Most of the non-flashback chapters are set in 2009.
  • Age-Gap Romance: The twins' parents, Earl and Rita, were born 17 years apart.
  • Alpha Bitch: Marisa Mazarelli, the popular girl who outed the twins as psychic in eighth grade.
  • Always Identical Twins
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Kate is greatly annoyed by the terrible British accent Vi uses when imitating people she considers to be narrow-minded, especially since most of them are American.
  • Distant Prologue: The book opens with a description of three devastating earthquakes that hit the Louisiana Territory in the early 1800s.
  • Does Not Drive: Vi claims she's stopped driving because it's greener, but it's really because she's developed a phobia.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Kate's powers first became apparent at age four, when she woke up screaming from a nightmare about a burning house. The next night, another house on their block burned down.
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  • Flashback: Even-numbered chapters take place in the present day, and odd-numbered chapters describe Kate and Vi's childhood and youth.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Violet and Daisy, and Kate's daughter Rosie.
  • Last Minute Baby Name: Justified with Kate. Earl and Rita had already settled on Violet or Victor for their child, but weren't expecting to have twins. It took them five days to choose a name for their younger daughter.
  • Meaningful Rename: Kate's first name is Daisy. She started going by her middle name, Kathleen, because she was desperate to distance herself from her past, and because she thought Daisy was too fanciful and lighthearted.
  • Millennium Bug: Kate was worried about this, but Vi told her, "That Y2K stuff is bullshit. My meditation group was talking about it, and we've all gotten messages that the transition will be peaceful."
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  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: When Kate's mother dies of a reaction to her fibromyalgia medication, Kate feels desperately sad, even though she doesn't get the news until the next day.
  • Nice Guy: Kate's husband Jeremy.
  • Ouija Board: During the five-week period in eighth grade when Kate is best friends with Marisa Mazarelli, the two girls ask the board about the preferences of the hottest boy in class to help Marisa attract him.
  • Psychic Powers: The characters call it "having senses."
    Vi: It's different for different people in my line of work, and for me it's always been a combination of things - sometimes dreams, sometimes a conscious visualization, other times just a gut feeling.
  • Screaming Birth: The epidural the twins' mother received only numbed half her body, causing her to be partly paralyzed and in excruciating pain throughout the birth and leaving her traumatized.
  • Spirit Advisor: Vi is in contact with a being she calls Guardian. Kate doesn't like to hear about Guardian, since she's worried he has ulterior motives of some kind.
  • Talent Contest: The twins participate in one during eighth grade, dancing to Billy Joel's "You May Be Right." Their act is so well-received that Daisy is invited to Marisa's birthday party a few weeks later.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Violet and Daisy.
  • Third-Person Person: Kate's two-year-old daughter Rosie talks like this.
  • Twin Desynch: The twins were practically impossible to tell apart as children, but once they hit puberty, Violet got a different haircut and started gaining weight faster than her sister. Now most people can't tell they're related.
  • Twin Telepathy: When Violet is interviewed on the Today Show, Kate can hear all of Matt Lauer's questions even though they're only playing in Vi's earpiece.
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me?: Kate was initially reluctant to have biological children for fear that they'd inherit her senses.