I am a big fan of Edwidge Danticat and this young adult novel does not disappoint. Set in the US, it tells the tale of sixteen-year-old identical twins Isabelle and Giselle who are involved in a tragic accident on the way to a school orchestra concert.
Giselle finds herself trapped in a state of limbo, unable to move or communicate with the world although she has not sustained any serious injuries and is aware of what is happening around her. Before she can wake she must deal with her own feelings of guilt about the accident, her relationship with her twin sister, and the faltering relationship of her parents.
Untwine reads like a true portrayal of what it might be like to be a teen trapped in one’s mind, somewhere between life and death. During this time Giselle faces her fears and failures with an honesty that is touching and realistic. It is only when she has completed this self-examination and come to terms with her guilt that she can considered facing the world without her sister.
After Giselle wakes and returns home she finds life fundamentally changed, not only because of the death of her second half, but because of the journey she has taken while in her almost self-imposed coma. Her best friend and potential boyfriend look different through her new lens on life. Untwine takes a slightly different turn at this point as Giselle tries to uncover the identity of the person who crashed into their car, killed her sister, and changed their lives irreparably. I found the second half of Untwine to be a little less interesting than the first half, my emotions, perhaps, spent by the flood awoken in the first half. This did not spoil my overall impression of the book which I highly recommend.