I’m one of those people with a birthday at Christmas time. People frequently ask me what it’s like having a birthday during the holiday season and my answer is always the same: I don’t know any differently. I don’t know what it’s like to have a pool party, or to receive presents wrapped in something other than Christmas paper. My birthday has been tied in with Christmas for my entire life.
I imagine that twins probably have a similar experience. People must ask them all the time what it’s like to be a twin. Their answer? They don’t know any differently. Just like my birthday has always been at Christmas, they have always been a twin. It’s not something you can change easily.
I don’t know of anyone who isn’t at least somewhat fascinated by identical twins. I mean, they aren’t very common and they look exactly alike; of course we’re fascinated. Can you imagine having another “you”? Think of the possibilities! Ever wonder what that cute short haircut would look like on you? Does your new dress make your hips look big? Are your glasses the right shape for your face?
I realize that some twins may have identity crises: being constantly confused for someone else must be frustrating. But the upside is that you always have someone who “gets” you; someone who knows you better than anyone else. And interestingly, there have been stories recorded of the deep emotional connection between identical twins, to the point that if one gets hurt, the other feels the pain.
Cady, in Susan Strecker’s new novel Nowhere Girl, has always shared emotions with her identical twin sister Savannah. Their connection—and love for each other—runs deeps, which is why Cady gets short of breath at the moment her sister is murdered.
Now, nearly seventeen years later, the killer is still at large and Cady’s family can barely mention Savannah’s name. For Cady, her grief over being a lone surviving twin has turned into a career: she is a best-selling novelist of crime novels. She has never stopped looking for clues to her sister’s death and she holds onto hope that one of her numerous “research” interviews with criminals will one day hold the answer.
Stuck in an unhappy marriage, Cady is comforted by food and frequent dreams of Savannah. In them, she is certain that her sister is trying to give her a message. Then the sudden resignation of the local police chief brings Savannah’s case out of storage, and the original responding officer, now detective, has re-opened it with renewed vigor. With her hope soaring, Cady is certain that her family will at last find out what happened to Savannah on that harrowing night.
But when shifting through old evidence brings to light new questions, Cady and her family begin to realize that not everything about Savannah’s murder was what it seemed. Now they must decide if the cost of getting answers outweighs the belief and trust they have in the innocence of one another.
Susan Streckler’s first novel, Night Blindness, was an Indie Next pick. Nowhere Girl is her second book. Thomas Dunne, 2016.