Title: The Twins
Author: Saskia Sarginson
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: They were inseparable until an innocent mistake tore them apart.
Growing up, Viola and Issy clung to each other in the wake of their mother's eccentricity, as she dragged them from a commune to a tiny Welsh village. They thought the three of them would be together forever.
But an innocent mistake one summer set them on drastically different paths. Now in their twenties, Issy is trying to hold together a life as a magazine art director, while Viola is slowly destroying herself, consumed with guilt over the events they unknowingly set into motion as children.
When it seems that Viola might never recover, Issy returns to the town they haven't seen in a decade, to face her own demons and see what answers, if any, she can find.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting from this book, but I do know that what I got wasn’t it.
This is a book that must be read from start to finish to get the whole story. It’s not told in a linear fashion, but in a series of flashbacks from the POV of both Viola and Isolte. It was jarring, at first, to experience the change in perspective. The book opens from Isolte’s POV, told in 3rd person. It switches to Viola’s, told in 1st person. And the switch in POV is the only distinguishing factor in who is talking. I had to reread a few passages the first time it happened!
And though they are twins, Isolte doesn’t know the whole story from when they were children. Most of that story – but not all – is told to us by Viola. And Isolte hides part of the unfolding story from Viola now that they are adults. It’s understandable. Viola is sick and Isolte only wants to protect her. But it seems the only person who knows the whole story is the reader.
What a heady place.
The only problem (in the way that’s not really a problem at all) is that it’s told to us in bits and pieces and back and forth that it must be pieced together like a puzzle without a picture. Once the puzzle was solved, it became a beautiful story of loss, grief, and tragedy. A picture was painted that shared the consequences of tragedy and how lives that should be shared can diverge as a result.
I found myself thinking of Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry while reading it. It had the same kind of flow (not to mention similar setting – and the obvious twins).
This is definitely not my normal fare – but I definitely enjoyed it.
What Others Are Saying:
- ABC Blog: It gets a little clichéd towards the end, and at some points contains overly explicit descriptions of the characters’ behaviors or feelings, which spoil the otherwise subtle conveyance of the author’s meaning.
- But Books are Better: Saskia’s Sarginson’s debut novel, The Twins, is both a touching coming of age story as well as exploring the impact of childhood trauma and guilt through the eyes of identical twins and the special bond they share.