When the genetic lottery strikes a family unevenly, only one twin gets a death sentence.
Fraternal twins Tovah and Adina are both ambitious, but the similarity ends there. Tovah’s an AP student who wants to go to Johns Hopkins for pre-med, while Adina’s a talented viola player who’s conservatory-bound. Tovah hides her curves, while Adina wears “Siren” lipstick and sexy dresses. And Tovah’s tested negative for the Huntington’s disease gene, while Adina has tested positive. These bilingual, white, Jewish sisters have watched their Israeli mother’s health deteriorate from the disease since her diagnosis four years ago. Now their mother’s memory loss, mood swings, and physical tics seem like a grim foretelling of Adina’s eventual condition. The once-close twins can’t support each other in this terrible time, as they’ve been barely speaking since Adina sabotaged Tovah back in sophomore year. The point of view alternates, and readers watch religiously observant Tovah begin her first flirtation while sexually active and irreligious Adina seduces her 25-year-old viola teacher. The chilly prose depicts a family that’s been dysfunctional for so long, and Adina approaches her grim solution to the Huntington’s death sentence with such aloofness, that neither their pain nor her epiphany evokes much feeling.
While the fraught sibling relationship rings true, the narrative is ultimately too detached for the subject matter. (Fiction. 14-18)