Written by Gina Linko
Published by Sky Pony Press
Publication date: 2nd January 2018
Summary (from Goodreads):
Tempest and Tally Jo Trimble are mirror twins—so alike they were almost born the same person—and they’ve been inseparable since birth. But it’s the summer they turn thirteen, and it seems like everyone can tell something is changing between them.
Pa Charlie, whose traveling carnival is the best part of every summer, is watching them closer than ever. Digger, who sneaks poor kids onto the carnival rides for free and smiles faster than anyone, seems to be fixing for a fight. Even Mama is acting different, refusing to travel with the carnival this year even though her own twin, who she hasn’t seen since childhood, will be there.
And Tally and Tempest are the most different of all. There’s a strangeness between them, a thickness to the air, an unseen push and pull, and it’s getting stronger. It starts as a feeling, but soon it’s sputtering and sparking, hurling them backwards, threatening to explode.
When Tally learns that she and Tempest may not be the first twins in their family to be separated by whatever this force is, she realizes she’ll have to find a way to stop it—or she might lose not only her sister, but everyone she loves.
Tempest and I were mirror twins; our cells had decided at the last possible moment to divide into two people in the womb. So that meant we shared everything , but flipped. The part in my hair was on the right; hers was on the left. I was right-handed; she was a lefty. That kind of thing.
Opposites, but more than that: Connected. Intertwined.
But things had changed this year somehow; a weird friction had crept in between us.
And I didn’t like it.
I have to admit that I was initially drawn in by the stunning cover, then by the description of the carnival setting – I am a sucker for stories set in the circus or carnival! It is quite a short book, describing twin sisters who suddenly find that something is pushing them apart and being together can lead to accidents. There is a mystery surrounding their mother and grandmother, both of whom were also identical twins, yet no longer see each other.
The story is told from Tally’s point of view and she is fully fleshed out – she is, at times, immature, frustrating and kind, developing her understanding of her sister by whom she feels overshadowed, never pausing to consider that her twin may feel the same about her!
Magical realism is a genre which can be hit or miss for me as I am often disappointed by how little magic there actually is in the story. Unfortunately, this was the weaker point of this story for me as I feel like the magical aspect was not fully-explored nor added much to a solid coming-of-age story.
Recommended for younger readers who like just a smidgen of magic!
There in my bed, that first night back at Pa Charlie’s, I found myself thinking more and more about the day before kindergarten when Mama told us she was putting us in separate classes. “So you can have your own life too,” she’d told us then, her smile faltering just a little. “But we’re the same,” was all I could come up with.
Tempest had been silent. “Come here,” Mama had said, and she’d pulled out a bottle of nail polish. “Give me your index fingers. Both of y’all.” We obliged, and I remembered being so surprised when Mama brushed the paint onto the pads of our pointer fingers, instead of on the nails. Then she’d pressed our fingerprints onto an index card, side by side. “Look closely.” I’d studied them, narrowing my eyes.
“They’re different!” I had said, so surprised after six years of sharing everything with my sister.
Our secret sign language of our toddler years, the same bed half the time, the freckle under our eye— hers on the left, mine on the right.
What I liked: Carnival setting, wider cast of characters, friendship between Tally and Digger, teacher supporting Tempest. I liked Tally’s character development as she felt flawed and realistic.
Even better if: It did feel like there could have been more magic. I know that magical realism can struggle to get the balance right, but I really wanted to find out more about what had happened with their grandmother and mother, as well as the reasons why their family was afflicted with this ‘curse’.
How you could use it in your classroom: It would make an interesting read for children to spark discussions about sibling relationships and twins who are identical in looks but not personalities. Could also be good for those who want a bit of magic, but you are trying to push on to more complex books than The Rainbow Fairy series. Some of the language is beautiful so short passages could be pulled out to discuss, though it may not go down well as a class readaloud.
(Thank you to Netgalley and Skyhorse Publishing/ Sky Pony Press for my e-ARC)