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5.0 2
by Edwidge Danticat

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Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers have a tragic encounter that will shatter everyone's world forever.

Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to


Giselle Boyer and her identical twin, Isabelle, are as close as sisters can be, even as their family seems to be unraveling. Then the Boyers have a tragic encounter that will shatter everyone's world forever.

Giselle wakes up in the hospital, injured and unable to speak or move. Trapped in the prison of her own body, Giselle must revisit her past in order to understand how the people closest to her -- her friends, her parents, and above all, Isabelle, her twin -- have shaped and defined her. Will she allow her love for her family and friends to lead her to recovery? Or will she remain lost in a spiral of longing and regret?

Untwine is a spellbinding tale, lyrical and filled with love, mystery, humor, and heartbreak. Award-winning author Edwidge Danticat brings her extraordinary talent to this graceful and unflinching examination of the bonds of friendship, romance, family, the horrors of loss, and the strength we must discover in ourselves when all seems hopeless.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for Untwine:

NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Literary Work
2015 VOYA Magazine Perfect Ten
CCBC Choices List selection
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books of the Year, 2016
New York Public Library Best Books for Teens selection

"I fell in love with Untwine. It's a book I want to give my daughter, my sister, my best friend. Danticat is a master." -- Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming
"A genuinely moving exploration of the pain of separation." -- The New York Times Book Review

* "Danticat... shines in this young adult novel... A bit mystery, a bit romance... a touch of humor, well-crafted characters and strong writing make this a book to recommend[.]" -- School Library Journal, starred review

"[T]his tale of grief and resilience should appeal to people who love Danticat's fiction for adults, too[.] Danticat takes several staples of young imaginations (and some old ones, too) -- and spins something beautiful yet down to earth out of each one. While Danticat fully grounds Giselle in her identity as a Haitian-American teen in Miami, this gentle young artist could speak to any teen anywhere coping with a major loss." -- The Philadelphia Inquirer
*"[A]t once heartbreaking and uplifting." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An honest, endearing exploration of family, grief, and perseverance." -- Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 06/08/2015
Giselle, an art lover, and Isabelle, a budding composer, are 16-year-old Haitian-American twins living in Miami. After the SUV carrying the girls and their recently separated parents is hit, Giselle’s world unravels. Danticat (Krik? Krak!) vividly represents the path from shock to healing as Giselle and her parents grapple with Isabelle’s death. When the police start questioning the circumstances of the accident, friends Jean Michel and Tina help Giselle uncover startling details about the driver, a subplot that propels the novel forward with the suggestion that Isabelle’s death was not in vain. Danticat’s gracious and poetic language haunts as Giselle moves through “star-blinding pain,” both physical and emotional, discovering the inner world of her sister and reconciling the guilt she feels at being the surviving twin. With a dynamic family of uncles, aunts, grandparents, and family friends, Giselle creates a bridge for herself, moving from twinned to “untwinned” and to a place where the best of her sister lives on in her. Danticat’s final scenes are at once heartbreaking and uplifting. Ages 12–up. Agent: Nicole Aragi, Aragi Inc. (Sept.)
VOYA, August 2015 (Vol. 38, No. 3) - Katherine Noone
Sixteen-year-old Giselle Boyer begins her narration in a hospital, semicomatose after a car crash in Miami has devastated her whole family. Giselle’s parents have survived, but as Giselle learns very slowly, her identical twin, Isabelle, has not. In Danticat’s expert depiction of semiconsciousness, Giselle dips in and out of the accident memory, finally uncovering her feelings of guilt for squabbling with Isabelle in the car. The twins had been so incredibly close that their fingers had to be untwined at birth. At first, Giselle thinks Isabelle must be alive because she is, and they are “almost the same person.” Then she realizes that she experienced the resuscitation paddles as Isabelle died. Unable to talk or communicate for five days, Giselle reaches back into a rich tapestry of their memories. Their parents have worked to allow their individuality, dressing them differently, placing them in separate classes, recognizing Isabelle’s talent for music and Giselle’s for art. But not until her mother is wheeled to Giselle’s bedside does anyone realize it is Giselle who has survived, not Isabelle. The novel throbs with the vibrant life the twins have experienced, loving beauty of all kinds, supported by a warm family, flavored with their Haitian roots. Giselle loves pentimento—new paintings covering old images. Various subplots in the story—the girls’ pediatrician aunt, their friends, budding love interests, and the desperate girl who caused the fatal accident—all seem like pentimento, painted lightly over Giselle’s struggle to accept being untwinned and untwined. Danticat has captured poignantly the joy of everyday life sharpened by awareness of its transience. Reviewer: Katherine Noone; Ages 12 to 18.
Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
Isabelle and Giselle, the daughters of upper class Haitian immigrants, were born holding hands, a symbol of their tightly connected lives. Though they rarely dressed alike and relished their individuality (Isabelle played flute while Giselle drew, for example), as twins they shared a bond not easily understood by others. When a car accident tragically cuts short Isabelle’s life, sixteen-year-old Giselle must face the daunting challenge of a new existence without her sister by her side. To make matters worse, Giselle—lying in a coma and unable to communicate—is initially mistaken for Isabelle. The first person narrative helps the reader identify with Giselle as she experiences a variety of emotions, from confusion and frustration, to anger, to deep sorrow. Danticat’s eloquent language evokes the profound devastation such a loss can induce, as well as the hope that eventually comes through family and friends. Though she firmly sets Giselle’s narrative in the reality of school, family troubles, and first love, Danticat weaves the occasional thread of mystery and surrealism, especially in Giselle’s Haitian roots and her beloved grandparents’ island home. Fans of Gayle Foreman’s If I Stay will enjoy this powerful story of sisters, love, and loss. Reviewer: Heather Christensen; Ages 13 up.
School Library Journal
★ 07/01/2015
Gr 7 Up—Identical twins Isabelle and Giselle were born with their fingers entwined and the doctors had to separate them, digit by digit. Now at 16, their parents are separated and considering divorce and the twins are developing their own interests and friends. As the unhappy family is running late to Isabelle's school orchestra concert, the two are once again holding hands when the red minivan hits their SUV. For several days after the accident, the doctors and Aunt Leslie think Giselle is the twin who died and call her Isabelle, and Giselle, trapped in a coma, cannot tell them who she is. Unable to wake up or move, Giselle travels through her memory of friends, family, and mostly of Isabelle as she decides whether to let go of her twin and return to life or to stay in her vegetative state. Waking up, though, only leads to physical pain and grief as she struggles to recover from the accident and her sister's death. Haitian-born Danticat, better known for her adult books, shines in this young adult novel that at times seems to move into the supernatural and mystical before yanking readers back into realism. A bit mystery, a bit romance, even a touch of humor, the strong writing leads readers on a journey through Giselle's past, a journey she must take before she can face the present—and the future without Isabelle. VERDICT Well-crafted characters and strong writing make this a book to recommend, especially for fans of Gayle Forman's If I Stay (Dutton, 2009).—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas
Kirkus Reviews
Tragedy strikes twin sisters Giselle and Isabelle, and their world is changed forever. Sixteen-year-old Giselle Boyer wakes up in a hospital room unable to speak or move. She recalls an accident while en route to Isabelle's school orchestra concert. Was the accident her fault? And where are her parents, and where is Isabelle? Alternating between periods of awareness and unconsciousness, Giselle begins to piece together what happened to her family. She also conjures memories: of Isabelle, high-spirited, artistic, and brilliant; of their childhood and unbreakable bond; of their parents' troubled marriage; and of blissful summers past spent in their family's native Haiti. As she ponders, Giselle wonders who she is and who she will be without her twin. National Book Award nominee and American Book Award winner Danticat delivers a lyrical, heart-wrenching novel for teens about love (familial and romantic), friendship, and loss that traverses multiple worlds—between life and death, between twins, and between the past and the present. In a lyrical, often wistful first-person narration, Giselle seeks to uncover the forces behind the event that altered her life and the lives of everyone she loves. Her emotional pain is raw, and Danticat presents both it and the lingering physical injuries she and her parents struggle with unflinchingly. An honest, endearing exploration of family, grief, and perseverance. (Fiction. 13-18)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Edwidge Danticat is the author of many award-winning books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, an Oprah's Book Club pick; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award nominee; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award Winner; and Brother, I'm Dying, a National Book Critics Circle winner. She is also a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant. Edwidge lives with her family in Miami, Florida.

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Untwine 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book truly captures how I feel,while also telling an amazing story about two twins who's live(s) will never be the same.
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book! I am not a twin but have 3 sisters who I love very much and lost my only brother so could relate to the pain a death of your loved one brings.