Sisters tells the story of September, July, and their mother Sheela. Something unspeakable has happened to September and July in the town where they used to go to school. Sheela has brought them to their aunt’s cabin – where September was originally born – after the unnamed incident. Readers race through the text to discover what exactly happened to exile the family from their town.
The two sisters are two years apart in age, and the pair have a dangerous push and pull relationship. September manipulates July, forcing her to have the same birthday as her. To share cake, presents, a day for both of them. September Says is September’s favorite game to play with July, even making sure September Says to cut yourself with a razor blade (and other scary things). While September has red-flag qualities that can cause sibling trauma, she also shows intense love for July, taking care of her when their mother is too mentally ill to feed them or care for them.
At times, this novel reminded me a bit of the child character in Zoje Stage’s Baby Teeth. Children being a bit deranged is always spooky. It doesn’t help that for Halloween, July and September dress up as the Grady Twins from The Shining.
This novel is complex in emotion and in its exploration of the process of sadness and grief. I do not want to spoil anything here (especially if you haven’t read it, because the “twist” is genius and makes you want to go back to page one and read it all over again) because the way Daisy Johnson makes the reader journey with the character through their understanding of their experiences is a true wandering you want to partake in fully. Johnson’s minimalistic prose makes the reader feel part of the story and impose their own emotions onto the sisterly relationship. This novel is heartbreaking and peculiar, both in such a good way.
Easily, 4 Cthulhu’s and it may even get close to a 5.(4 / 5)