An accident leaves a man comatose and near death. Will his twin have a chance to make amends?
Growing up, twins William and Charlie Ferns were inseparable, particularly after their Aunt Audrey bought them walkie-talkies. They learned the two-way radio alphabet, from which William took his nickname: Whiskey. Always eclipsing Charlie’s star, Whiskey excels at everything, so Charlie is forever seeking something of his own. Although he wins a part in the school play and bests Whiskey on the golf course, Charlie seems tethered to Whiskey’s lead in other arenas. Whiskey’s shadow looms over Charlie’s first experiences with girls. Whiskey leaves a trail of ex-girlfriends: Some of them use Charlie to make Whiskey jealous, while others turn to Charlie’s arms only to find he cannot risk dating them for fear of angering Whiskey. Even Charlie’s partner, Juliet, was Whiskey’s girlfriend first. As the twins grow up and further apart, Whiskey goes into advertising, creating a glamorous life for himself that repels his twin. Charlie believes he's content in his life without Whiskey until his vibrant brother is hit by a car. As Whiskey's coma drags on from days to weeks to months, Charlie’s hopes dwindle. Even if Whiskey does come out of it, he will no longer be the man Charlie knew, loved and—if he's being honest—hated. Smith’s (A New Map of the Universe, 2005) chapters alternate between the vigil over Whiskey and the resurrection of Charlie’s memories, which explore the apportioning of blame for their broken relationship. Can Charlie bear life without his complementary half? Can he find room in his heart for another, less hateful, version of their lives?
A powerful, emotionally riven tale of a brother’s deep, complicated love.