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The Wife and I often joke about sending our daughter to a convent when she reaches her teens, but after reading Marcy Dermansky's dark comedy about identical twin teenage girls, I'm no longer kidding. Sue was born just four minutes after Chloe and even their own parents can't tell them apart, yet Sue is obsessed with her sister's imagined superiority and the dread that anyone might come between them. Chloe finds Sue overbearing, but both loves and fears her. For their 13th birthday Sue cajoles Chloe into getting each other's names tattooed on their backs and after that -- after they finally are physically different -- nothing is ever the same again....

In the pages that follow the girls mature in a suburban hell, with a creepy older brother, disinterested parents, Mean Girl friends at high school, and a variety of other characters who either want to help or exploit them, or both. As they experiment with or succumb to drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, sex, lesbianism, petty crime, and all kinds of other pathologies they also learn how to make separate lives for themselves. While it's often disconcerting to watch the hash the girls are making of their lives, Ms Dermansky also plumbs the situations for frequent laughs. Perhaps the most trenchant satirical targets in the book are the twins' parents, divorce attorneys with little time for their children, who eventually divorce not each other but the girls, announcing that some people just aren't very good at being parents and they'd rather go live in the city, to be closer to their jobs.

The story flags somewhat as the girls get older and everything ends up working out more than a little too well in the end, but overall it's a terrific novel and especially impressive as a debut novel. Ms Dermansky seems an author to keep an eye on...when not watching one's own daughter like a hawk....


Grade: (A)


See also:

Women Authors
Marcy Dermansky Links:

    -BOOK SITE: Twins by Marcy Dermansky (Harper Collins)
    -Book Notes - Marcy Dermansky (largeheartedboy)
    -SHORT STORY: Perfect (Marcy Dermansky, Barcelona Review)
    -SHORT STORY: Protest Sandwiches (Marcy Dermansky, In Posse Review)
    -SHORT STORY: Lousy Presents (Marcy Dermansky, Pif)
    -SHORT STORY: Little Meadow Simms (Marcy Dermansky, Pif)
    -SHORT STORY: Potato Pancakes (Marcy Dermansky, Sep/Oct 1999, Eclectica)
    -SHORT STORY: Drop It (Marcy Dermansky, September 1997, Mississippi Review)
    -ESSAY: At the Human Nature Press Junket (Marcy Dermansky, April 15 2002,
    -FILM REVIEW ARCHIVES: Jurgen Fauth & Marcy Dermansky, your Guide to World / Independent Film (
    -INTERVIEW: LONG TIME WRITERS, FIRST TIME AUTHORS – A LIVE E-PANEL (Dan Wickett, 9/8/2005, Emerging Writers Forum)
    -REVIEW: of Twins by Marcy Dermansky (POLLY SHULMAN, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Twins (Alexis Soloski, Village Voice)
    -REVIEW: of Twins (Justin Matott, Rocky Mountain News)
    -REVIEW: of Twins (Karen Karbo, Newsday)
    -REVIEW: of Twins (Angel Curtis, OutSmart)
    -REVIEW: of Twins (Yael Avni, Papier Doll)
    -REVIEW: of Twins (Bond Girl, Shaken & Stirred)

Book-related and General Links: