Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Books: The Opposite of Me

When I was younger, I used to read two or three books a week.  No matter what was going on around me, I could block it all out as I turned the pages and got deeper and deeper into the story.  Now, I'm lucky if I read a book every other week.  I spend my time doing other things, and, even though I hate to admit this, the internet definitely takes up a lot of the time that I would normally spend on reading.  Recently, I decided that I am going to start reading more, aiming for one book per week.  So far, I've been keep up with it and I even went to the library this past weekend to stock up on books that I've been wanting to read but couldn't find at the bookstore (honestly, I was shocked by what Barnes & Noble didn't have in their massive store.  No Joan Didion? No Zoe Heller?  No wonder people are reading less literature--there is hardly any in the stores!).

Last week, I devoured a book that a good friend loaned me called The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen.  From the summary of the book, I didn't think I would like it.  It's seemed too light, with a gossipy quality that I tend to avoid.  I'm so happy I gave it a chance.  The Opposite of Me is about a pair of twins who are so different from one another that they are barely even friends.  The story is narrated by Lindsey, the 'smart' twin, and follows her from a high-powered advertising exec job in New York City back to her childhood home outside of Washington DC.  Her sister, Alex, is beautiful and popular and always has been--she's engaged and living near Washington DC too.  Even as an adult, Lindsey finds it hard to compete with her perfect sister.

But things change and this becomes a book about relationships and life, not about petty arguments with siblings.  Pekkanen is a great writer, clear and concise, and she knows what's important to a reader.  Her characters are familiar but only to a point--she distinguishes them just enough to make them real, flawed but relatable.  I felt like Lindsey and Alex grew as individuals as they grew closer as sisters, which the type of character development that I love.  The Opposite of Me had a satisfying ending, too, which left me feeling happy but a little sad because I wanted more.

Overall, Sarah Pekkanen's first novel brought me back to my late teenage years, a time when I would get so caught up in what I was reading that I would forgo sleep just to finish the book.  I only got three hours of sleep last Tuesday night because I couldn't wait to finish The Opposite of Me, but I went to bed content.

Image courtesy of Sarah Pekkanen's website

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