Out of twins Helen and Ellie, Helen is the dominant one, the leader, so when she decides they will swap identities as a game in 1986 when they are six years old, Ellie inevitably goes along with it. However, when Ellie refuses to stop playing and assimilates Helen’s character, Helen is unable to convince anyone about the swap.
From being a bright thriving child she is thrust into the role of problem twin Ellie who has learning difficulties and a mother who seems to despair of her constantly. The loss of identity leads The real Helen to crisis point and estrangement from her family, until Hellie reaches out years later, but did the swap take place or was it all a figment of her imagination.
This psychological thriller is not easy to read as on top of the identity crisis our main protagonist suffers from bipolar disorder, which results in her doubting so much of herself that you constantly question what is reality for this character. The ease at which Ellie becomes Helen might be a sticking point for some readers but for me less dominant twin didn’t necessarily mean less intelligent or less adaptable and once I accepted this premise the book was impossible to put down.
Many good psychological thrillers divide readers along marmite lines and Beside Myself will probably do just that, but for me this really was a triumphant read.
This book will be released on 14th January 2016, but is available for pre-order.