cover image The Secret Twin

The Secret Twin

Denise Gosliner Orenstein, Author Katherine Tegen Books $16.99 (385p) ISBN 978-0-06-078564-2

In Orenstein's (Unseen Companion) eerie, at times disturbing psychological tale, 13-year-old Noah has a secret: he has a twin. The two were ""born conjoined, face-to-face, sharing one heart, nourished by the same bloodstream."" Though Noah was told the twin died after an operation to separate them, he has the sense that ""my brother might still be skulking about,"" and wonders if his sibling might be the mysterious sniper terrorizing his neighborhood. Noah has been living with his grandmother, Mademoiselle, since his parents' death in a car crash nine years ago. While Noah waits for nearly 80-year-old Mademoiselle to recover from a face-lift, a 21-year-old nurse arrives to help around the house. The events unfold through the alternating first-person voice of Noah and third-person narrative of the nurse, Grace. Some readers may have trouble warming up to the boy's rather formal language, and the plot proceeds slowly, with often extraneous details repeating in each chapter. The odd thread about the sniper shootings detracts from the main thrust of the tale. Grace, who has secrets of her own, tries to break though Noah's barriers: at first he refuses to eat, then he stops speaking and runs away. Eventually she locates Noah, who was only starving for affection. Readers who make it to the end will learn that Mademoiselle died during her operation, and Grace is attempting to help Noah cope with the truth. Ages 12-up.