26A by Diana Evans

26A

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mixed-race twins come of age in a London suburb.

Half-English, half-Nigerian, Georgia and Bessi Hunter were born 45 minutes apart; and little has separated them since. In the attic of their home on Waifer Lane, they share dreams, a private language of thought and feeling and a pet hamster named Ham. Below, in their creaky house, their British father drinks and hangs pictures of the Dorset countryside, while their Nigerian mother wards off evil with wooden masks. Nothing seems to be able to make these parents remember how to love each other. Still, for all its hybrid fissures, the family hangs together: In colorful bursts, Evans’s debut follows the twins through their early life in London, then to Nigeria and back again to London. The twins’ older sister Bel falls for boys while younger Kemy grows Rastafari curls and idolizes Michael Jackson. The twins, meanwhile, tend to the roses in the garden and learn how to make flapjacks in home economics. While in Nigeria, both do cartwheels and chatter with their darker-skinned ancestors. Through two very different homelands, and the strange years of their adolescence, the twins’ symbiotic relationship helps them navigate the odd “betweenness” of their lives. Yet as Georgia and Bessi grow, private tragedies threaten the bond they once had, until both are forced to cope with new and profound forms of isolation. As they struggle to find themselves, they are pulled apart by deep currents that will alter them forever.

At once tender and funny: a keen study of home, homelessness and the limits of symbiosis.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-082091-8
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2005