Friday, April 27, 2012

Book Review: The Opposite of Me

Twenty-nine-year-old Lindsey Rose has, for as long as she can remember, lived in the shadow of her ravishingly beautiful fraternal twin sister, Alex. Determined to get noticed, Lindsey is finally on the cusp of being named VP creative director of an elite New York advertising agency, after years of eighty-plus-hour weeks, migraines, and profound loneliness. But during the course of one devastating night, Lindsey’s carefully constructed life implodes. Humiliated, she flees the glitter of Manhattan and retreats to the time warp of her parents’ Maryland home. As her sister plans her lavish wedding to her Prince Charming, Lindsey struggles to maintain her identity as the smart, responsible twin while she furtively tries to piece her career back together. But things get more complicated when a long-held family secret is unleashed that forces both sisters to reconsider who they are and who they are meant to be.

 I LOVED this story. PERIOD. On the larger scale it interwove some very complex themes about identity, expectations, familial rivalries, and how we present ourselves to the world. Although Lindsey, our main protagonist, says she "lives" in her sister's shadows, much of her adult life has been outside of her sister and said shadow. Lindsey has done everything possible to not only distance herself from her fraternal twin sister but to build up her own identity: one in New York City, one as a successful advertising agency executive, and as someone who is dependable and smart. The problem, of course, is that she hasn't organically sought to identify who she is.

 Instead Lindsey, in prime Type A fashion, has identified who she thinks she should be and has chartered her course along those lines. Family relationships are tricky and for Lindsey it doesn't get any trickier than being the lesser of two halves (ie. the less glamorous, attention grabbing twin). I suspect for twin sisters there's an extra layer of competition as people are more likely to compare one to the other not only in looks but in every other possible way. Lindsey knows how people catalogue her sister and, so, desperate for some other redeemable title, Lindsey kills herself with late night study sessions and work weeks in an effort to prove she's worthwhile too. The issue, of course, is that despite their opposing looks, Lindsey and her sister Alex have more in common than they might think; Alex can be smart and hardworking; Lindsey can be beautiful too, but a lifetime of thinking otherwise has pigeonholed them into lives that are not completely fulfilled.

Ironically, on the night Lindsey is meant to achieve everything she thought she ever wanted--a VP creative director title--she acts "out of character" sending her on a completely different path and one that forces her to ask a question she hadn't before considered. "What makes me happy?" Because the answer to that question is the most important of all and it's one that Lindsey hasn't been pursuing during her maniacal work weeks where she's neglected both friends and family.

Ashamed of her transgression, Lindsey moves home to a Maryland suburb just outside of Washington, DC (and only a couple miles from my house!) where she reconnects with her sister, her parents, and an old family friend and potential crush. So desperate to keep up her persona, Lindsey continues to lie to her family about why, exactly, she's in DC. That is, until, her sister reveals a secret and soon the lives they thought they were living, and the stories they had been telling, all come unraveling.

This is a story about family, feuds, reconciliation, and what's possible when we finally give ourselves permission to just "be" who we are and to accept others when they do the same. The relationship that develops between Alex and Lindsey is wholeheartedly believable and organically grows throughout the story. You'll find yourself relating to Lindsey in so many different ways and crying for Alex when she finally turns to her sister for support. You'll love (and be a little shocked too) when both sisters realize that

-they may not be as opposite as they had thought,
-the reasons behind who they are and what they've done with their lives may not be what they had seemed

 but there's one thing that they both certainly are, and that's strong.

The story has some romance interwoven in here but the true love story, in my opinion, is that of family. And as you all know, family relationships are never easy, they're never clean cut, and they're never prescriptive. At the end of the day, however, when one of these girls needs the other, they realize that despite years of competition, there's really nothing they wouldn't do for the other. They are, after all, family.  And that's what counts.

What awesome books have you read lately?

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a really good read. I'll definitely have to add it to my TBR list.