From the back cover:
This is the astonishing true story of Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, who shared a personal history for more than three decades—and didn’t know it. In her mid-30s, Schein finally decided to call an adoption agency to learn about her biological mother. Not expecting much, she instead got the surprise of her life. Her identical twin sister, Bernstein, lived just minutes away.
Identical Strangers chronicled not only the meeting of a pair of twins who were adopted by different families, but also their search to understand the secret study they and other separated twins were part of and their efforts to locate information on their birth mother. Elyse and Paula told their story together, alternating sections of the narrative in a way that occasionally overlapped—showing different perspectives on the same events—but was never confusing.
The story, as one might imagine, was a very interesting one. The investigation into both the study and their origins was engrossing, but what I liked best was the honest evaluation of their efforts to get to know one another. Paula admitted to initially wishing that she had never been found by Elyse, since her life was settled and she hadn’t been looking for anything else. Elyse, who’d always keenly felt something was missing in her life, couldn’t understand this perspective at all. Though they did eventually become close, I appreciated that the moments of tension and awkwardness were left intact.
Rounding out the story of the dual investigations were a series of anecdotes about other separated twins and the remarkable similarities they discovered when meeting up for the first time as adults. Some relevant statistics on genetics and inherited traits were also included. These, combined with Elyse and Paula’s own discoveries, made a sound argument for the ability of nature to trump nurture in a child’s development.
Identical Strangers was a great read, and is duly recommended.