Published by Bloomsbury Publishing USA on January 12th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense
eARC provided by Bloomsbury USA
Six-year-old Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but Helen is smarter, more popular, and their mother's favorite. Ellie, on the other hand, requires special instruction at school, is friendless, and is punished at every turn.
Until they decide to swap places--just for fun, and just for one day--and Ellie refuses to switch back. Everything of Helen's, from her toys to her friends to her identity, now belongs to her sister. With those around her oblivious to her plight, the girl who used to be Helen loses her sense of self and withdraws into a spiral of behavioral problems, delinquency, and mental illness. In time, she's not even sure of her memory of the switch.
Twenty-five years later, she receives a call that threatens to pull her back into her sister's dangerous orbit. Will she take this chance to face her past?
This is a complex book. The premise is amazing. Identical twin girls. Helen is normal and all the hopes and dreams of her family are pinned on her. Ellen was born with complications and suffered a bit brain injury. At the age of six they decide to swap places. When it is time to switch back Ellen decides she likes being Helen, so she refuses to switch back. No one but the twins knows the truth. Ellen acts out and basically looses her mind as years tick by and no one believes her. Was she really ever Helen at all?
The writing in this book is all first person. The chapters flip back and forth between Ellie as a child and then later as an adult. The story starts with the swapping in their youth and as a grown woman Ellie being stalked by a man. The man ends up being Helen’s husband. Helen was in an accident and is now in a coma. He is sure that having Ellen visit her would wake her up.
The twins mother is horrible to the girls. Ellen goes through so much throughout her childhood. Both of their childhoods were awful, but Ellen is ostracized for being slow and put into separate class in school. She is slowly driven insane trying to prove who she is. As an adult Ellen does everything she can to stay away from her family.
It is really hard to decipher all of this with the way this book is written. Ellen (or Helen) is mental and her thought process is not easy to follow. She hears voices and makes frustrating choices. She also refers to herself by other names. I felt a lot of angst for Ellen as a child, but it went a bit overboard when she became an adult. I can imagine it must have been horrible to be someone you are not and see your normal childhood stolen from you. I don’t know what it would have done to the mental stability of a child so young. It is hard to believe even her mother doesn’t believe her. That makes Ellen’s sanity even harder to put faith in.
I didn’t enjoy seeing Ellen as a adult. She seemed so in control at times and other times she was completely crazy. No one in this story is likable or relate-able. I am mostly disappointing with this read. it just wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be. I had lots of unanswered questions, so I kept reading hoping that I would get answers. I got most of the answers I was seeking, but not all. Also, the ending fell a bit flat. I was waiting for this big climactic ending, but then it was nothing really big.