Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunitedby Paula Bernstein
Pub. Date: 10/02/2007
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Elyse Schein had always known she was adopted, but it wasn’t until her mid-thirties while living in Paris that she searched for her biological mother. What she found instead was shocking: She had an identical twin sister. What’s more, after being separated as infants, she and her sister had been, for a time, part of a secret study on separated twins
Elyse Schein had always known she was adopted, but it wasn’t until her mid-thirties while living in Paris that she searched for her biological mother. What she found instead was shocking: She had an identical twin sister. What’s more, after being separated as infants, she and her sister had been, for a time, part of a secret study on separated twins.
Paula Bernstein, a married writer and mother living in New York, also knew she was adopted, but had no inclination to find her birth mother. When she answered a call from her adoption agency one spring afternoon, Paula’s life suddenly divided into two starkly different periods: the time before and the time after she learned the truth.
As they reunite, taking their tentative first steps from strangers to sisters, Paula and Elyse are left with haunting questions surrounding their origins and their separation. And when they investigate their birth mother’s past, the sisters move closer toward solving the puzzle of their lives.
Praise for Identical Strangers:
Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award
“Remarkable . . . powerful . . . [an] extraordinary experience . . . The reader is left to marvel at the reworking of individual identities required by one discovery and then another.”
–Boston Sunday Globe
“[A] poignant memoir of twin sisters who were split up as infants, became part of a secret scientific study, then found each other as adults.”
–Reader’s Digest (Editors’ Choice)
“[A] fascinating memoir . . . Weaving studies about twin science into their personal reflections . . . Schein and Bernstein provide an intelligent exploration of how identity intersects with bloodlines. A must-read for anyone interested in what it means to be a family.”
“Identical Strangers has all the heart-stopping drama you’d expect. But it has so much more–the authors’ emotional honesty and clear-eyed insights turn this unique story into a universal one. As you accompany the twins on their search for the truth of their birth, you witness another kind of birth–the germination and flowering of sisterly love.”
–Deborah Tannen, author of You’re Wearing That?
- Random House Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
I could not stop reading this book -- devoured it in a weekend. This is not just an analysis of the twin relationship or of adoption practice. Nor is it a typical narrative. It is a riveting personal story, like a diary, honestly told by two people suddenly faced with a stunningly unique challenge to their notions of what it means to be 'me.' The personal nature of the storytelling is what gripped me -- at times a bit ragged, at times emotionally inconsistent, and with twists and turns no novelist would dare invent. It's very real, and I often found myself wishing i could just go have coffee with Paula and Elyse to hear their latest. They are remarkably introspective people who question rather than just accept.
I was happily surprised by not only the warmth and charm of the story and writing but also the educational value. They have definitely done their homework about twins- and I was delighted not only to come out having read a fascinating story but also having learned a lot about the lives of twins. Elyse and Paula's made it easy to understand what they must have been feeling throughout incredible and unlikely circumstances and held nothing back to help us understand the roller coaster events of the reunion
i enjoyed this from start to finish. such a heart felt story! what an amazing journey!!
Identical Strangers was a Christmas gift from my own identical twin, with whom I share an uncommonly close bond ... and a lifetime of mistaken identity. Thus, I absorbed this book with emotional incongruity. While I deplore sibling-separation, and though I mourn the authors' sisterless childhoods and lost early closeness, I see a compensating consolation in each being raised as her own person in her own defined space. The book's alternating-author format propelled me to its poignant finale in one sitting. In addition to the story itself, many aspects of Elyse's and Paula's personalities interested me, such as their sleuthing chutzpah, their initiative, persistence, varying moods, and differing reactions. I also appreciated the book's related genetic facts and information. To connect with this story, one needn't be an adoptee, a twin, or even a sibling. There's infinite appeal in its universal secondary theme: Identity. The precise mix of biology, environment, timing and all other factors that make each individual profoundly unique, even those sharing identical DNA, remains as complex as it is intriguing.
As someone who has helped adoptees find their biological parents, is the wife of an adoptee and is the author of a number of books about ethics, I had a special interest in this book. And it met with all my (high) expectations. In short, it was terrific -- well-written, engaging and thought-provoking. The authors deal with all sides of several important issues, from the emotional repercussions and rewards of finding one's biological roots and relatives to the ethical issues of medical research and perspective, especially the issue of separting twins (which would include separating other siblings, too). Whether you agree with the authors or not on these issues, their book is a fabulous springboard for discussion in book clubs, classroom settings and among friends and relatives. For anyone considering doing a similar search or helping someone search for their roots, it is a good resource. In short, I highly recommend reading it and can't wait to see the movie!