Narration: 4.5 cups
Beside Myself is a literary thriller about identical twins, Ellie and Helen, who swap places aged six. At first it is just a game, but then Ellie refuses to swap back. Forced into her new identity, Helen develops a host of behavioural problems, delinquency and chronic instability. With their lives diverging sharply, one twin headed for stardom and the other locked in a spiral of addiction and mental illness, how will the deception ever be uncovered? Exploring questions of identity, selfhood, and how other people’s expectations affect human behaviour, this novel is as gripping as it is psychologically complex
Beside Myself by Ann Morgan is a creepy, twisted psychological thriller with a fantastic narrator. Imagine you are a twin, the favorite twin. When you’re six years old you play a game and switch identities. When the game is over your sister refuses to switch back and becomes you. What would you do if no one believed you? Come meet Ellie and Helen in Beside Myself a twisted, dark, and quirky tale that shares alternating chapters from then and now.
I chose to listen to Beside Myself and loved the narrator Lisa Coleman. She did a fantastic job with character voices and it was not an easy task. I was able to identify who was speaking from young Ellie (Helen) to adult Ellie (Helen) and the many different personalities. She even captured Ellie and Helen’s cruel mother in all her venomous glory.
I will warn you, none of the characters are likeable or even reliable. Ellie and Helen have an awful mother and I had evil thoughts about her. Morgan puts forth a scenario that is freaking scary and shares the consequences. The stories told through Ellie’s perspective who is the “real Helen.” Morgan uses “you” rather than “I” when Ellie (Helen) relays the story and I found it clever. Her childhood is dark, and there are quite a few triggers for those who are sensitive. View Spoiler »Rape, abuse, addiction, suicide, depression, emotional cruelty, psychological disorders, and a dysfunctional family. « Hide Spoiler She grows up in the shadow of Helen the “real Ellie” and is cast into the role of underachiever, troublemaker and second best. It is all rather unnerving. Of course, the louder she protests the more she looks and acts like the real Ellie.
As adult Ellie, (the real Helen) refers to herself in third person as Smudge and is quite delusional. She is estranged from her family and refuses any contact with her sister. When her sister falls into a coma, things come to a head. She discovers her sister was on her way to see her when the accident occurred. Forced back into their circle she wonders if she may finally be able to prove who she really is. Things get complicated and twisted as truths are revealed. It was quite crazy and I found myself completely wrapped up in the unraveling of it.
Beside Myself touched on psychological disorder, dysfunctional family, the effects of trauma and more. While I found the story to be compelling there were occasions when I rolled my eyes at this collection of family members and the situations the author placed them in. Not everything that happened seemed plausible or perhaps too much happened. Either way I enjoyed listening.
Addictive, disturbing and highly original I enjoyed Beside Myself, and the disturbing, thought-provoking story Morgan offered.