By Dakota.Me.UK, Oct 16 2016 09:00AM
Beside Myself, Ann Morgan, Bloomsbury 2016
Six year old Helen and Ellie are identical twins with very different personalities. While playing games, they swap places, but later on Ellie refuses to swap back. Very quickly they start to take on each other’s traits, the Helen who was Ellie becoming downtrodden and misbehaving, the Ellie who is now Helen, popular and excelling at school. The new Ellie tries to tell their Mum what has happened but she just doesn’t believe her.
Fast forward years later and the twins have been living as each other for many years. Helen is successful and well known, and Ellie is struggling with mental illness and is living in squalor. But when Ellie finds out Helen has had an accident, is in a coma and her husband needs her help, the invisible pull between them both becomes stronger than ever. Ellis is forced to confront events from the past while Helen is lying in a hospital bed.
It is the flashbacks to the past, when Helen and Ellie are growing up as each other, which are the most chilling and powerful in this book. Their mother is a key character in Beside Myself. This really made me think about how siblings, especially twins, can be brought up by the same parents, but at the same time turn out totally differently – in one sense their upbringing was completely contrasting.
I found the novel so easy to read, and would definitely read more books by Ann Morgan. It really got me thinking about how people treat us growing up, and when we become adults, and the impact that has on our sense of self. Highly recommended!