The only problem I had with this book is, unfortunately, the central conceit. What I didn’t get was how no one picked up on the fact that the twins had swapped places. Yes, Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but no matter how identical two children are, a parent would be able to tell them apart. Like, you can’t honestly tell me that those two girls had not one scar, blemish or identifying mark that would have told them apart.
Once I got over this however (albeit with a huge leap of faith) I enjoyed the book immensely. There’s some brilliant characterisation and the plot is great. It’s a really interesting exploration of how our identity is shaped not only by our innate characteristics, but also by society’s expectations and other people’s preconceptions of us.
It’s also a great psychological thriller. It plays on the old kafka-esque, ‘no one believes me!’ trope and shows a girl’s descent into mental illness and drug abuse when she is forced into a life that she doesn’t want. It’s pretty dark and even when things seem to be going right you have the suspicion it’s all going to turn to merde again pretty soon (spoiler alert: it does).
The story alternates between present day and twenty years ago, showing bit by bit the run-up to the current nightmare that Smudge’s life is.
All in all this was a really interesting novel and I’ll be looking out for more work by this author.