cover image Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited

Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited

Elyse Schein, Paula Bernstein, . . Random, $25.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6496-0

In this transfixing memoir, Bernstein, a freelance writer, and Schein, a filmmaker, take turns recounting the story of how each woman, at age 35, discovered she had an identical twin sister, and the reunion that followed. Despite disparate upbringings, education and work experiences, the twins share matching wild hand gestures, allergies, speech patterns and a penchant for the same art movies. Louise Wise Services, the adoption agency, will reveal only that their biological mother was schizophrenic and unaware of who their father was. Records of the study the agency conducted about them are sealed, so the authors spearhead their own research project by poring over birth records, tracking down their birth mother's brother and interviewing researchers, who claim that twins raised apart are more similar than those raised together. Much of the book is devoted to fascinating stories of other twins and triplets who, when reunited as adults, are shocked by how much they have in common with one another. Bernstein and Schein's relationship becomes extremely close and also fraught with expectation. “Once you find someone,” Bernstein writes, “you can't unfind her.” (Oct.)