Monday, May 18, 2020

Book Review: Twins

By Melissa Amster

Fraternal twins Justice and Temerity Bauer are not just siblings, but best friends. Temerity was born blind, talented, and wickedly funny. Though she’s fiercely independent and a successful violinist with the city orchestra, she has always had her brother to watch out for her. Justice is both protective and resigned about his exceptional sibling, and they live together in a stylish loft with their pets, a not-so-smart dog named Runt, and a fat cat named Mouse.

When Justice asks his girlfriend to marry him, it sends the twins into uncharted emotional territory and they are both uncertain of how the new relationship, and living apart, will affect them. As the story begins and they face the depth of their connection and the impending separation, memories and secrets are dredged up—both joyous and tragic—leaving Justice and Temerity confronted with old wounds that tie them to the past.

Temerity has lost faith in her ability to have a romantic relationship, even with the handsome pianist that lives on the second floor. Meanwhile, her friend Regan is attacked by an unstable, ex-husband who will stop at nothing, not even murder, to force her into submission. Seth, a twelve-year-old boy that the twins found living in the basement of their building a year before leads the siblings to Fay, a one-time teacher with schizophrenia, who protected the twelve-year old when he was homeless.

Together, the twins and their friends Rupert and Ellen set out to help get Fay the medication and treatment she deserves, and protect Regan from her dangerous ex. In spite of the dangers they confront, the biggest obstacle facing Temerity is learning to trust herself…and risk falling in love with the talented man downstairs who plays the piano so beautifully.

Like A Man Called Ove, and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Twins is about exceptional people who have so much to offer but often live invisible lives. Twins is a love story about siblings, lovers, family, laughter, and the redemption of friendship.

Twins is… A messy, poignant, honest love story, just like life. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Both Invisible Ellen and Becoming Ellen (links are to reviews) made it to my favorites list during the years they were published. So I was thrilled to find out that Shari Shattuck was publishing a companion novel. While Twins could be the third in the Ellen series, it also can be read as a stand-alone, as there is enough background information to fill in what happened in the previous novels. However, I highly recommend reading both of them first, as they're delightful!

Temerity is one of my all-time favorite secondary characters, so I am glad Shari told most of this story through her perspective. It was interesting to get into her head and understand how it feels to be blind. I also enjoyed getting to know Justice better this time around. He had a smaller role in the Ellen novels, but he also seemed really nice. I love that they were both still up to their "schemes" to help people. I wish they lived in my neck of the woods so I could ask them to help some people I know who have been dealt unfair circumstances. While this was a happy-go-lucky story overall, there were some sad and dark moments to balance it out.

The only thing that didn't work so well for me was that perspectives shifted a lot within the chapters, especially when Temerity's narrative was taking place. If something needed to be described, another character would take over the narrative for a moment and then it would shift back to Temerity's voice afterward. It got confusing at times and I felt we could have received a different descriptive focus from her, like how something smelled, tasted, sounded, etc.

I would love another novel featuring these characters, especially now that Ellen is on her path to a new career. I felt like I was revisiting with old friends and I love how they made some new friends in this story. I'm not ready to let go of them yet!

Movie casting suggestions:
Temerity: Tatiana Maslany (When I read Invisible Ellen, I originally pictured Temerity as being similar to Cosima in Orphan Black and the image just stuck with me.)
Justice: Max Minghella
Ellen: Danielle Macdonald
Amanda: Amanda Seyfried
Regan: Stephanie Leonidas
Geoff: Eric Winter
Hugo: Alexander Dreymon

Thanks to Shari Shattuck for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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