There are complicated relationships, and then there are COMPLICATED relationships. While we, as romance writers, are mostly concerned with the so-called war between the sexes, Maryland native’s Sarah Pekkanen tackles what is arguably the most complicated relationship of all: twin sisters.
And, as a twin myself, I can tell you that “The Opposite of Me” blows it out of the water.
Pekkanen’s heroine is 29-year-old Lindsey Rose. The fraternal (those are the ones who don’t look alike) twin of a professional model, Lindsey has carved her entire existence out of a need to make a name for herself that doesn’t involve being Alexandra’s “ugly” sister. It’s worked, too. While Alex has always been the “pretty” twin (and don’t tell me that doesn’t matter to a thirteen year old girl), Linds has always been the “successful” twin. It’s a dynamic that seems to work for them, right up until Lindsey destroys her career in one spectacular night and is forced to move home to Maryland. There, she attempts to keep her job loss a secret from her parents, reconnect with an old flame, and rebuild her life one painful step at a time.
I’m not going to lie. There were a few aspects of this whole endeavour that I saw coming from a mile away. However, the writing was such a treat, I chose to just “ride the wave” and see where Pekkanen took Lindsey on her journey. Plus, it was an aspect my romantic side really celebrated when it paid off in the way I hoped and expected it to.
What made this book so special to me, though, was the way Pekkanen managed to capture the relationship between the girls. In many ways, it was like she’d grown up being a fly on the wall in my childhood home. I haven’t had a book speak me to me like that in, well, ever. Though my sister and I are identical twins, growing up, I was always the geeky, musical, one while sis was the pretty, popular one. Those were not labels we were given by anyone but ourselves, either. Still, because of them, I identified with Lindsey’s efforts to keep certain friends “special” to herself, her dogged pursuit of academic achievement, and — most certainly — her determination to present everything as “fine” in her professional life.
(Though, Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t worry. I promise you my boss still adores me.)
The thing is, these are all things twins do. Without delving into serious Dr. Phil territory, I can tell you that going though life as a package deal is extremely difficult. Carving out one’s own identity — even if that means that you bust your butt to be named in the top 10% of your high school class because your name comes after hers in the alphabet, but the top 10% graduate in academic order — is not only important, it’s VITAL to one’s existence. Pekkanen manages to capture the emotions and reasons behind this and the other crazy things twins do, brilliantly and beautifully, and I actually found myself rereading certain passages just for the opportunity to appreciate that someone out there finally understood how I felt.
The thing is, I don’t think you have to be a twin to appreciate “The Opposite of Me.” It’s a wonderfully-written work on a singleton-appreciation level too. However, if you are a twin (or the mother of young twins), I highly recommend it. Someone out there finally “gets us,” and her name is Sarah Pekkanen.
By day, Elle Filz is an IT geek in Baltimore, MD. By night, you can either find her singing karaoke or jotting down notes for her next women’s fiction story. She is also an aspiring Betty Crocker-type who thanks God every day that a fireman lives next door.