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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Identical Strangers...Review

About the book:
Elyse Schein had always known she was adopted, but it wasn’t until her mid-thirties while living in Paris that she searched for her biological mother. What she found instead was shocking: She had an identical twin sister. What’s more, after being separated as infants, she and her sister had been, for a time, part of a secret study on separated twins.

Paula Bernstein, a married writer and mother living in New York, also knew she was adopted, but had no inclination to find her birth mother. When she answered a call from her adoption agency one spring afternoon, Paula’s life suddenly divided into two starkly different periods: the time before and the time after she learned the truth.

As they reunite, taking their tentative first steps from strangers to sisters, Paula and Elyse are left with haunting questions surrounding their origins and their separation. And when they investigate their birth mother’s past, the sisters move closer toward solving the puzzle of their lives.

Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. A memoir of twin sisters who, until the age of 35, didn't know the other existed. The story is told by both sisters' alternating viewpoints. Their voices are compelling as they share how they reacted to the news of discovering they each had a twin. The journey they then undertake together, to discover their history and birth mother is amazing and heart wrenching at the same time.

They were part of a psychological study that not only looked at twin separation, but also whether mental illness is hereditary. I can completely understand their anger and frustration at the absolute abhorrent decisions which were made, arbitrarily, about separating siblings and then studying them as if they were laboratory experiments. Horrific.

There is a great deal of information included about the science behind the study and the psychological outcomes not only of adoption, but of being twins. Well written and, at times, poignant.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 3/08

* * *
3/5 Stars

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