Monday, February 8, 2016
Beside Myself by Ann Morgan (thoughts)
"Beside Myself is a literary thriller about identical twins, Ellie and Helen, who swap places aged six. At first it is just a game, but then Ellie refuses to swap back. Forced into her new identity, Helen develops a host of behavioural problems, delinquency and chronic instability. With their lives diverging sharply, one twin headed for stardom and the other locked in a spiral of addiction and mental illness, how will the deception ever be uncovered? Exploring questions of identity, selfhood, and how other people's expectations affect human behaviour, this novel is as gripping as it is psychologically complex."
This book left me emotionally drained after finishing it! It was one of the most intense reads that I have finished in awhile. Heck, I finished it a couple of days ago now and I'm still thinking about it! This was one of those books where you just can't quite believe the premise. How do two twin girls switch places and no one ever realizes the truth? The author took this storyline and made it work in such a way that I was absolutely just blown away by this book. It was horrible to read about at times seeing what Smudge (this is what Hellen who turns into Ellie calls herself as a grown woman) went through after the two girls switched places. This wasn't always an easy read and was much darker than I expected. But it was so compelling and I just could not set this book down. My Friday night was basically devoted to reading and finishing this book because I just HAD to see how it was all going to end.
What I loved most about this book was that there were two different story lines. One was the present and dealt with Smudge's current life. This viewpoint was so completely interesting to read about because I could never quite get a grip on her actions. She had that feel of an unreliable narrator that I just adore so much. The second story line was all about the past and focused on the switch and the years after the girls switched places. Of the two this really felt the darkest and I found it all so very horrifying. There were times I just had to set this book down because I was so completely invested in this book. I had to breathe and remind myself that this was just a story. I also couldn't help but wonder how things would have been if the girls hadn't decided to play a game one day and switch places with each other. That unknown was haunting and deeply troubling for me as the reader. The ending of this book wasn't at all what I expected but thinking back on it, I would have to say it worked. I really don't think that it could have ended any other way (and I won't say more than that for fear of spoiling it for others). This was a reading experience that I won't be forgetting about any time soon and an author to watch! All I really can say after reading this one is" WOW!"
Overall, I really enjoyed this book which feels weird to say when it was such a disturbing read at times. I connected to the characters and the book just really came alive for me. I don't know how else to explain it. I loved how this book made me question and wonder about life experiences in general and how the little things affect us. The best way to describe this book is troubling....troubling and terrifying but so completely readable. What a book! This is an author that I will definitely be reading more of! Highly recommended!
Bottom Line: A haunting read that left me thinking about it for days!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher as part of a TLC book tour.