My sister Cheryl and I are both completely addicted to books. We pass each other books we’ve read, and then either keep them, pass them back, or pass them on to someone else. That sentence is a little misleading. It’s way more one-sided than that. Cheryl usually buys the books, reads them, and then every time I see her, she has a bag of books for me to read. Once I’m down to my last book, I know it’s time to figure out a way to see each other so I can replenish my stack. I just love to have a stack of books waiting for me to read.
After Christmas I had an idea. What if we both read the same book at the same time? Kind of like a book club, only instead of waiting until we’re all done and then get together to discuss it, we can discuss it as we go? Cheryl thought that was a great idea and let me choose the first book. I chose this:
I chose Her Fearful Symmetry based solely and completely on the author. I had no idea what the book was even about. But Audrey Niffenegger also wrote Time Traveler’s Wife, which I adored, so I thought we couldn’t go wrong, although I had purchased a book a while back using the same reasoning and it was disastrous. You can read about it here Sing Them Home
Not only has this choice proven to be a good one, it was also a bit, well…coincidental.
As you know, we were raised by an identical twin. It was nothing to any of us growing up as Mom’s kids to see her grab her side in pain, and say to Dad, “oh my, Diane must have gone into labor!” A quick phone call would confirm this to be true. It happened on my Aunt Diane’s end as well. Mom would have pain in her leg and find out later that Diane had injured herself in the exact spot that Mom had phantom pain. Mom would say to Dad, I think I’ll call Diane tonight, and no sooner were the words out of her mouth but the phone would ring and Diane would be on the other end. There were far stranger stories that we accepted as perfectly normal, but I’d need to tape record my Mother telling them to get them right.
When they were girls, the story goes, my Grandmother got tired of the twins dressing exactly the same, and so she took them clothes shopping separately and kept them apart until they’d both chosen new outfits. You already know the punchline…they chose the exact same things. Grandma gave up. As far as I know they dressed identically until they each married and lived apart, us in the Portland area, and Aunt Diane in Tacoma.
In the last couple years, since Mom’s open heart surgery, Cheryl and I, who are 5 years apart have begun to notice some strangeness in our relationship. Things that happen between us that we chalk up to coincidence….but we’ve begun to tease each other and our parents that we’ve somehow inherited Mom’s Twins Syndrome. Cheryl and I, too, call each other at exactly the same time. We will email each other at exactly the same time, asking the same question, or having the same exact suggestion. We’ve had physical ailments at the same time, ailments neither of us had ever had before. About 3 weeks ago I copied and pasted a facebook instant message conversation we were having and sent to our Dad. We had both, in the middle of our conversation typed the exact same sentence at the exact same time. I realize that can happen with anyone, because, really, it’s just coincidence. But with Cheryl, it happens ALL the time.
The funny thing is that we’re nothing alike. We are looking more alike as we age, but we’ve never been mistaken for each other. Cheryl is organized and structured. I am neither. She meal plans. I don’t even cook most of the time anymore. Cheryl leans more to the left, I lean to the right. She loves boating and water. I keep my feet firmly planted on soil. Cheryl goes to a United Methodist church where most of the staff are women, I go to an Acts 29 church where you won’t find a female pastor.
I digress…back to the book. I chose Her Fearful Symmetry, we both received our books the same day, and I opened my book and read the inside of the jacket to find it is about 2 sets of identical twins, each a generation apart. I was shocked! The last paragraph of the inside jacket says,
“Author of one of the most beloved first novels in recent years, Niffenegger returns with an unnerving, unforgettable and enchanting ghost story about love and identity, secrets and sisterhood and the tenacity of life–even after death.”
Once we had the idea to read and discuss a book as we go, I even thought, what a great idea for a blog theme! I could even use excerpts of our email conversation about the book here on my blog! It couldn’t work though, because we would give away what is happening in the story, and if anyone reading this wants to read the book, well, you see how that would go. Wouldn’t work.
I will say that I made a good choice. I love the book, it is so well written, and is keeping me guessing as to the secrets that the girls will uncover…and it’s made Cheryl and I start thinking and talking about what it must have been like for Mom and Aunt Diane when Diane married first and moved away. I wish Diane were still alive and we could get them both in the same room and hear about their early days when they went from inseperable for a lifetime to married and living in different states.
Maybe when we finish the book, Cheryl and I will both write a review and share it here.