I REALLY love a good identical twin story. The Sweet Valley High novels were a guilty pleasure growing up. And there was this novel that came out in the 80s, about these identical twins that swapped places but one of them died, and there was even a sequel where it turns out the dead twin was still alive! LOVED IT! So imagine my delight at finding a brand new identical twin story, full of intrigue and drama. I was incredibly delighted, with one caveat. Weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at writing my own identical twin story, and I still haven’t decided whether to enter it in a contest, or get it published somewhere, or just post it here on laurellit.com. Anyway, the main character twin in my story plays piano, just like the main character twin in The Girl in the Mirror, which I read AFTER I wrote my story. Just saying…
Anyway, The Girl in the Mirror, by Rose Carlyle, was incredibly addictive. It’s about this set of identical twins who were conjoined at one point in the womb, but they managed to break apart. Summer is the elder twin and her organs are on the expected side of her body. Iris, the narrator of the story, is the younger, turned around twin, with her heart in the wrong place. She is literally the mirror image of Summer.
Iris has always been jealous of Summer, who seems kinder, more generous and more together than Iris. Even though they are identical, Iris is sure Summer is also more beautiful, because her beauty comes from the inside. Summer is married to Adam and they seem to have the perfect relationship, while Iris is divorced at 23. This has implications that reach beyond the status of their love life. When Summer and Iris’s dad died, he left a provision in his will that his first child to have a baby in wedlock and to give that baby the family name, will be the sole beneficiary of the 100 million dollars he left behind. Summer and Iris are the eldest of his kids, but they have a younger brother (who happens to be gay, making him less likely to procreate any time soon) and several half-siblings, one of whom is turning sixteen and is from New Zealand, where that is the legal age to marry.
Summer and Iris know that their stepmother will stop at nothing to get the money, even if that means forcing her daughter into a childhood marriage and motherhood.
So, the stakes are high. Things get even more intense when Summer has a family emergency and needs Iris to sail her yacht, because sailing is one of the only things Iris is better at than Summer (the other thing is playing piano.) Still, Summer is on board, and she announces that she’s pregnant, and Iris is pissed, but she loves Summer and will do anything for her. Then, Summer disappears and Iris assumes she’s dead, and she has to make sure her creepy half-sister doesn’t get the money, so she’s forced to swap places with her twin and tell everyone that she is Summer.
And things only get crazier from there.
I loved this story. A lot of the first half was told through flashbacks, where we learned about the dynamic between Iris and Summer, and why Iris is so insecure. By the time Iris decides to fake everyone out and tell them she’s Summer, the flashbacks end, and though we know Iris is making some really bad choices, it all makes sense and you can’t help rooting for her.
Then there are twists and turns and tons of tangled webs. I saw a lot of stuff coming, but I didn’t know when or how it would all materialize. I realize there is no shortage of “evil twin” or “twins trading places” stories, but this one managed to be original, shocking, and well-written. I cared about the main character, Iris, and I appreciated her growth over the course of the story. And, I was sad when it was over.
I highly recommend The Girl in the Mirror.