Because most of us will never know what it's like to be a twin,
twinship is often seen as fascinating, mysterious and magical. In
this captivating book, Abigail Pogrebin blends a memoir of her life
as an identical twin with interviews of other twins, along with
scientific reporting of the twin phenomenon.
I expected this book to be interesting (and it fully met my
expectations), but I couldn't foretell how often it would make my
heart ache. Abigail doesn't hold back, courageously revealing the
sometimes painful longing she has for more closeness with Robin,
her twin, while also discussing the wonderful aspects of their
relationship. Although it isn't surprising to learn the strength of
emotional intensity in being an identical twin, some aspects of the
relationship are a revelation. Abigail tells readers that she has a
life partner in her sister, someone with whom she is compelled to
share her deepest thoughts and whose opinions she treasures. But
there's another side to the coin: Abigail takes on any emotional
distress Robin shares with her and is devastated by any spat with
her sister. She also is frank about her sorrow in a certain recent
distancing in their relationship, one emanating from Robin.
Abigail's personal story weaves between the tales of other
twins, as well as interviews with experts on twin relationships.
She begins with a meander through a town named for twins:
Twinsburg, Ohio. Twinsburg celebrates twins with an annual Twins
Day, which began in 1976. Today, thousands of pairs of twins from
all over the world attend the event. Abigail, who visited it in
2006, was a bit embarrassed by the sight of many grown twins
dressed identically, but she also felt off kilter without Robin.
During her visit, Abigail met many fascinating twin couples,
including the well-known Ganz twins, who call themselves the
"ambassadors of twins." Debbie and Lisa Ganz not only opened a
twins talent agency, but they also own the New York City Twins
Restaurant, staffed with twin waiters. Abigail marvels that the
Ganz sisters have celebrated and elevated their relationship, while
other twins she meets at Twins Day have been frank about their
romantic and social woes, which some blame on their strong
connections with their siblings.
Experts, including psychologists and psychotherapists,
contribute their theories about twin relationship pitfalls. Some
believe that having a twin --- essentially a built-in best friend
--- may delay social development. Feeling complete because of a
twin relationship, some theorize, might also hinder a search for
romance. In addition, it seems that some romantic partners of twins
may feel especially challenged by the twin connection.
One set of twins Abigail interviews is football players Tiki
Barber and Ronde Barber. The Barbers discuss their respective
strengths and weaknesses. To Abigail, they seem to have the perfect
twin relationship with achievements they've attained by helping
each other thrive, a solid closeness and separate successful family
lives. However, when other twins are interviewed, it is obvious
that many have issues with separating from their twins. These
problems can sometimes even result in estrangement.
As Abigail continues to research, she attends a twin parenting
class, which seeks to instruct couples expecting multiple births.
In their turn, mothers and fathers of twins have their say about
the experience of parenting two tiny babies, an often overwhelming
endeavor, complicated by the higher rate of prematurity. Experts
also weigh in on the consequences and responsibilities of fertility
specialists in regards to multiple births.
The subtitle of ONE AND THE SAME --- “My Life as an
Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned About Everyone’s
Struggle to Be Singular” --- expresses the theme of the book,
a combined honoring of this most intimate bond along with the
yearning to be an original person. From stories of heroism told by
twin survivors of Auschwitz through a heartbreaking tale of shared
DNA resulting in tragedy, this fascinating read is as much of a
page-turner as the most exciting thriller.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (firstname.lastname@example.org) on January 13, 2011