A Meeting Place for Early loss twins

This is really my twin's Enjy's place, not mine. S/He does not have any other place in this world. S/He was miscarried at age four months in the womb. We were twins and made to be together for years and we were torn apart within seconds. This is the place where I go to talk to him/her and about him/her. Anyone who has lost a twin in utero or very early is very welcome here to read and share.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Books on twinloss N° 15 "Three Black Swans" by Caroline B. Cooney

I hesitated to purchase this book from amazon-marketplace because the reviews were mostly critical.
Characters not believably described, exaggerated story line, abrupt shift of perspective - the mostly juvenile readers didn't seem to buy into this story. I still bought it and I do not regret it.

Most of the reviews seem to think the book starts with a hoax 16yo old Missy plays on her friends and schoolmates pretending she found her long lost identical twin in her cousin Claire.
It doesn't. It starts with Missy listening to the radio and hearing something about twins who are much different in size and weight at birth might catch up in later life. It triggers something in her perception of herself and her cousin Claire with whom she has a very close relationship. When her adventurously minded biology teacher, goaded to talk about hoaxes in class by the students, sets them the task to create a hoax themselves, Missy really uses the opportunity to spill the beans on a family secret she hardly knows exists.

Cooney's style poses a challenge to her young readers. It seems to be abrupt, chaotic in parts, changing perspective too fast, dropping info and then leaving the scene, but as an adult reader I think she just keeps closer to reality than to the traditional idea of a story line. In reality stories seldom have lines but knotted wads and the author in this book doesn't do the steady unraveling the reader expects, but just throws them the wad to do the unraveling themselves.

There is Missy getting a senior student in charge of the school tv to distribute her alleged meeting with her alleged twin to the whole school and - unplanned by her but totally in line with modern kids' thinking - via YouTube to the rest of the world.
There is Claire, her cousin - as the girls have believed all their lives - having "a strong family resemblance", unwilling to participate in the 'hoax' but playing along after all and becoming unexpectedly overwhelmed by the girls' eery similarity shown on screen.
There are the Vianellos, Missy's parents, and the Linnehads, Claire's, with their different life-styles and challenges.
There are friends and peers who are shocked and amazed at the alleged twin-reunion.
And then there is Genevieve. Another girl with another set of parents. Or is she?

The social and emotional effects of identical triplets separated at birth and finding out at age 16, as well as the situation of families with very different finacial means on the eve of College for their daughters, of a young and ambitious couple facing an unwanted pregnancy and two other couples not able to become pregnant and eager not to ask too many questions when offered an opportunity to adopt a baby, the very different personalities of three girls wo look exactly alike and the difficulties to travel from one place to another within a range of 20 miles but with three different states involved... the book in parts resembles an impressionistic-pointillistic painting. The author just puts down dots which seem unrelated at first and slowly develop into the whole picture.

Although no twin dies in this book, the experience of twinloss is described very vividly and convincingly. Cooney obviously did her homework on this subject. The closeness between the "cousins" Missy and Claire is a bit spooky to their parents long before Missy's "hoax" discloses their twinship. They not only text one another all day long, they express a need to hear the other one's voice and meet regularly that goes beyond the expected level. The same goes for the only half-consciously perceived longing for something/someone Missy experiences and which, mysteriously, isn't satisfied even by meeting with Claire every weekend. The way the triplets react to one another when they finally meet is also described empathically and convincingly.
By the way, the different possibilities for a triplet pregnancy to develop are described correctly in this book. Sadly, this is not a given for every fictional book about multiples

At the end of the day, as an adult reader, I'd have to tell the young critics of the book they simply didn't understand its expert grasp of the plot. Caroline B. Cooney did a very good job with this book and even if it spares the reader the pain of the ultimate twinloss and leaves the door open for a very optimistic future for all characters, it's worth a read for twinless twins imhO, maybe specially early loss twins, because it faces the feelings of multiples separated at birth and living their twinship unconsciously for a long time, in a convincing way.

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