This book is special. I must admit I haven't managed reading it through, yet. I read more than half and then started leafing through to find out about later events, because I was too impatient to get their in due time ;-). And this book isn't an easy read. This book is literature to be taken seriously, yes, Sir.
The story sounds simple enough. A little boy lives with his grandmother. She has to go to hospital and a temporary caretaker moves in with the boy. They have a not-too-easy time getting to know each other, but in the end become fast friends, which is all the more beneficial for both because the grandmother dies.
So far, so not-at- all to the clue. Noah is no ordinary boy and his grandmother whom he calls Mademoiselle is no ordinary grandmother. Noah was born a conjoined twin, but it was clear from the start that only one of the twins could survive. An unprecedented operation saves Noah's life and ends his brother's. He keeps the newspaper articles on the event under his bed in a box.
Noah's parents died in a car accident and he grows up with his grandmother. We learn to know her mainly through her grandson's appearance to the caretaker Grace - who has a story of her own about life and loss.
This book is magic and NOT because the author choose to weave the symbols of the Tarot cards into the story. The plot includes a mysterious murderer whom Noah confuses somehow with his twin and who leaves cards of the Great Arkana behind, but the story is magical enough without this feature. Grace's perspective on life. Through food. The way she fights for her own little boy who got lost - her little brother killed in an accident - and later for Noah. The way Noah finds out about his grandmother, how she loved him, how she not loved him and how he loves her, in the end. The way Noah comes to term with his twin and his twinship, how he climbs from being half a boy to being someone like no other, maybe, but still himself, and maybe, most miraculous, the way Orenstein manages to describe a clearly obese and simpe-minded young woman like the most insightful and important and precious person in the whole wordl - not only for Noah.
It's hard to describe this book without adapting the magical style Orenstein weaves. It's sure like none of the other twinloss books I read. I'm still not sure whether I like it or not, but it sure is special.