Tuesday, April 1, 2014



Karen Wyle
Smashwords Edition 2013

We all know someone who has identical twins, or we've gone to school with twins, or we've seen them in movies and commercials. Those of us lucky enough to actually know twins are well aware that having the same genetic code doesn't automatically mean they think the same way at all. As we go through life, different stimulus can strike us in different ways. Two people (even twins) who see a car accident don't always see what happened the same way. One could have been distracted by a bird flying by or a stray thought at a key moment. Different books they might read generate different ideas and beliefs, and as these paths diverge, individuality emerges.

Johnny and Gordon have a unique problem. Nobody sees them as individuals. They've been together all their lives but as they grew, their personalities drifted further and further apart and now it's time they went their separate ways, but due to circumstances beyond their control and a startling family secret-- they can't.

Johnny is restless; he wants to get out on his own. He's sick of having his brother in his face all the time, and has always been the more emotional and impulsive of the two. He wants to take action and stop talking about it.

Gordon's delighted with the current arrangement. All these years he's had Johnny around to help him. They finished one another's sentences. They always did homework together, played sports together, had the same friends and went, together, through the adversity of the folks who stared and pointed and thought they were weird. They had triumphed over all that adversity. Why change anything?

Now the technology is available to give each his own individual life. Johnny wants this desperately. Gordon doesn't see the point. Brothers can feud, but this is orders of magnitude worse. They must go to court, each defending his right to live as he chooses. Johnny's freedom could quite literally threaten Gordon's life. Gordon's preferred life is slavery by Johnny's standards. Is it even possible to find a fair solution?

This is one of the most thought provoking books I've read. The author puts us not only in the presence of the twins, but into their thought processes and emotional states. She tackles, aside from the issue of technology bringing us places we may not want to go, showing, in clear example, the conflicts that arise when two individuals' separate rights have to be sorted out. Does Johnny have the right to endanger his brother to get what he wants? Should Gordon have to completely restructure his life and sacrifice all he holds dear (and possibly his life) because Johnny wants a different path? Are we our brothers' keeper, or do we owe ourselves freedom?

This is adult material, difficult both from the standpoint of erotica (in the context of the story, not gratuitous, we are after all talking about teenage boys), but also from the standpoint of traditional value systems. It is a frank discussion of what it means to be an individual, of what happens when rights conflict and there seem to be no viable answers. We see the public get wrapped in the conflict, both sides angry and vindictive, and wonder how it can ever be resolved. It challenges our view of both freedom and justice, while letting us share in the lives of some very memorable characters. I highly recommend it.