A case of mistaken identity reveals a twin’s horrifying secret in this twisted tale from the bestselling author of What Janie Found. Mary Lee and Madrigal are identical twin sisters, inseparable since birth—until the day their parents inexplicably send Mary Lee away to boarding school. While Madrigal flourishes at home, growing popular and even landing a boyfriend, Mary Lee spends her days at school feeling lost, lonely, and envious of her sister’s perfect life. Then Madrigal comes to visit Mary Lee, and what should have been a fun weekend ends in tragedy. When everyone mistakes Mary Lee for Madrigal, the second-best twin steps into the life of the favorite. But while everything about Madrigal was perfect from the outside, what Mary Lee discovers about her twin is both shocking—and pure evil. Caroline B. Cooney has thrilled millions of readers with her Janie series. Now she explores the sinister side of secrets in this shocking novel about two very different sisters. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Caroline B. Cooney including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
|Publisher:||Open Road Integrated Media LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||12 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Caroline B. Cooney (b. 1947) is the author of nearly a hundred books, including the famed young adult thriller The Face on the Milk Carton, an international bestseller . Cooney’s books have been translated into several languages, and have received multiple honors and awards, including an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults award and a nomination for the Edgar Award. She is best known for her popular teen horror thrillers and romance novels. Her fast-paced, plot-driven work often explores themes of good and evil, love and hatred, right and wrong, and moral ambiguity. Born in Geneva, New York, Cooney grew up in Connecticut, and often sets her novels in dramatic New England landscapes. She has three children and four grandchildren and currently lives in South Carolina.
Read an Excerpt
By Caroline B. Cooney
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1994 Caroline B. Cooney
All rights reserved.
They were sending Mary Lee to boarding school. She could not believe it. Identical twins — separated?
Mary Lee's lovely olive skin was stretched with fear. Her beautiful hazel eyes, with their fringe of long black lashes, were wide with panic.
Each swing of hair, each lift of brow, was mirrored in her identical twin. If it had been a fairy tale, and one twin had said, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who Is the Fairest of Them All?" the mirror could have made no answer. For two qualified.
"Listen," said Mary Lee, striving to stay calm. Her parents admired calm. "Madrigal and I have never been separated! You don't understand because you're ordinary people. But we're identical twins. We're not regular sisters. If you send one of us away, we won't be whole!"
"Nevertheless," said her mother, looking sad but sure of herself, "you are going."
Mother, who adored having identical twins, who loved dressing them just the same, and fixing their hair just the same, and admiring them in their perfect synchrony, now wanted them split up?
Mary Lee was shaking. There was no need to look at her twin, because whatever one did, the other did. Madrigal would also be shaking. One of the oddities of identical twins was that the girls themselves could never tell who started anything. Madrigal might well have started trembling first, and Mary Lee second. One of them was always the echo of the other.
There was no possibility of remaining calm. Frantic, Mary Lee cried, "Mother, you can't do this to us!"
Her parents were strangely still, perhaps braced against her screaming, perhaps rehearsed for it, dreading the moment when Madrigal, too, began screaming.
"We have given it a great deal of thought, sweetheart," said her father quietly, "and this is the right thing to do."
"You've spent seventeen years making us match!" shrieked Mary Lee. "And you pulled it off! Nobody can tell us apart. We are one. Now what has brought this on? What set you off? How can you possibly think separation is the right thing to do to us?"
Both girls were there, of course, because where one twin was, the other always was, too. And, yet, Mother and Father seemed to be talking only to Mary Lee. As if Mary Lee had come undone. As if Mary Lee needed to be repaired. As if boarding school were the solution to Mary Lee.
Sadly, her mother stroked Mary Lee's heavy black hair. Loosely caught behind her head in a cluster of bright yellow ribbons, the hair slid free and weighted down her shoulders. Mother's eyes were bright with unshed tears, and her heart was racing with sorrow.
Mary Lee could not imagine what was going on. Separation could only break the hearts of all four of them.
"Try to understand," said her mother brokenly.
But Mary Lee had no use for that instruction. "What is there to understand? You are ripping us away from our own selves!"
"Listen to your phrasing, Mary Lee. Madrigal is not your self," said Mother. "She is her self. We have allowed ourselves and the world to treat you as a unit. We were wrong. You are not one. You are two."
She and Madrigal were not run-of-the-mill sisters. Mary Lee could not imagine being shipped away like a package, wrapped in brown paper, tied with string. Waking up in the morning without her twin. Dressing without her twin. Going to class without —
It was unthinkable. She would not do it. "You brought identical twins into the world. You must accept what we are! We are one."
Mother was suddenly harsh and angry. "Mary Lee, listen to yourself. You say 'we' instead of 'I.' You say 'us' instead of 'me.' It isn't healthy. You need to be a girl named Mary Lee, not half a twinset. You must fly alone. Sing solo."
Mary Lee had never heard such a horrible idea. Fly alone? Sing solo? "Identical twins can't do that. You're fighting a biological fact."
"The fact," said Father, "is that we have decided to separate you and your sister. You will simply have to trust us that this is a necessary action. For your mental health and Madrigal's. Madrigal will stay home under our supervision. You will go to boarding school."
The house seemed to float around Mary Lee as if its rooms had fallen apart like badly stacked toy blocks. She turned to her sister, knowing that the force of her own turn would turn Madrigal as well. They did not imitate each other so much as simultaneously broadcast. They never knew which of them was first and which the follower. It was too quick for that. "We won't let them, will we, Madrigal?"
Her twin sister smiled. A smile Mary Lee did not share at all.
Her twin sister said, "I think it's a good idea."
One thousand nine hundred and twelve miles to the school.
On the big featureless airplane, in a gray sky, with a gray heart, Mary Lee felt each of those miles pulse through her. One thousand nine hundred and twelve spaces between Mary Lee and her twin.
How can I do this? she thought, sick with fear. In my whole life I've never entered a room or a building without Madrigal.
This was not quite true. But she could count the exceptions.
There was the first week of fifth grade, when the elementary school faculty decreed that Mary Lee and Madrigal must have different teachers. The second week they gave up.
There was the time Mary Lee went shopping at the mall with Scarlett Maxsom, the way other girls did — with a friend. How strange it had been to have no twin along. To laugh with somebody whose laugh was not partly her own. She had had the fleeting thought that it would be fun to have a friend.
There was the sweet and funny afternoon that she and Van, Scarlett's brother, had had strawberry sundaes together. Not a date, really, just a lovely coincidence for Mary Lee to cherish.
In fact, the twins had never dated. They never did anything without each other. Their presence overwhelmed boys. Girls as beautiful and as incredibly alike as these two were not girls so much as an Event.
It was odd how that brief hour with Van had also acquired the status of an Event. She remembered it like a beloved movie, and replayed it in her heart, and even Madrigal did not know how often Mary Lee thought of that afternoon.
But the largest Event of her life was Separation. Already it had a capital letter: It was as huge as the sky and as impenetrable as marble.
"You are not to telephone," Mother and Father had said sternly. "You must write letters instead."
Not telephone? Not hear my sister's voice?
"I have to phone," pleaded Mary Lee. "I have to have something left." She turned to Madrigal. "Don't listen to them. Phone me anyway, when they're not home."
"I think they're right," said her twin.
The betrayal was so huge and painful that Mary Lee could not even think about it. She knew if Madrigal had fought back, Separation would not have occurred. But Madrigal had not fought back. Madrigal hadn't argued once. Not once. It was a slap that left a bruise on her heart. Once Mary Lee had the sick thought that her twin was not going to miss her. She killed that thought in a hurry!
Madrigal, left at home, would be as devastated as Mary Lee, shipped away.
She could not understand anything that was happening. Mother and Father actually seemed to hover over her that final week before she left home. As if she were in danger. As if people near her were unsafe. At night she wept into her pillow. In the morning, Mother's eyes were red, and Father's eyes were circled, but Madrigal's eyes were clear and bright.
How could it be? Mother and Father who had always seemed to love her so much had shuffled her off like an old deck of cards.
The mountains were high and crisp. Gray stone buildings sat on a wide grass campus. Thick dark woods enclosed the school like a fortress of old.
She was alone. It had never happened to her before. Ordinary people were often alone, but identical twins, never. What a hideous sensation it was — to be alone! How did people stand it? She was so glad not to be ordinary.
Identical twins, thank heaven, could communicate by invisible waves. Not ultraviolet, not X, not micro, not radio, but twin waves. Through the air and her soul, Mary Lee reached for her twin.
The waves were silent.
In her worst nightmares, Mary Lee had never expected this. Even if death were to come, she had expected to share it with Madrigal.
She was alone. And Madrigal had agreed to it.
Her father had actually had the nerve to cuddle her at the airport, to say goodbye privately, as if he were doing a good thing, a fatherly warm thing. "Be my brave soldier," he said to her.
Mary Lee hated that comparison.
"Put your best foot forward and try hard. Make friends. Stay alive."
My best feet walk in step with my twin's, she thought, fighting tears.
She crossed that school campus, and in the heavy grass left but one set of footprints. Neither of them looked like a best foot to Mary Lee. And what a queer trio of orders: try, make friends, stay alive. Of course she was going to stay alive. You didn't die of loneliness. Although no doubt she would feel dead, without Madrigal. As for "make friends," she didn't want any friend except Madrigal! As for "try" — well, yes, he was right about that. She did have to try. He was leaving her with no choice except trying.
It's too hard, she thought, already exhausted, and she hadn't even introduced herself to a single person.
The dormitory was large. So many strange girls to identify and names to learn. They seemed to know each other already, and have the passwords and jokes of intimate groups. The third floor, to which Mary Lee was assigned, seemed more a gathering of teams than a crowd of potential friends.
"Hi," she said to the girls, "I'm Mary Lee?" Her voice stumbled, the end of the sentence questioningly up in the air, for that was how it felt, not introducing Madrigal, too. Floaty and undecided. Half an introduction for half a set.
But all the girls had been new once, and they moved forward as if they expected to be best friends.
"I'm Bianca," said her first roommate, smiling.
"I'm Mindy," said her second roommate, and she actually swept Mary Lee into a hug.
"We're glad to have you," they both said. "We'll show you the ropes, because this is our third year here. They put you with us because we can help."
Okay, she said to herself. This won't be the end of the world. People are nice. Somehow I can survive.
The calendar of the school year stretched out hideously long. September until June? She couldn't go home until Christmas! Oh, that was evil, making her stay here four entire months by herself.
No matter how nice Mindy and Bianca were, Mary Lee could only half-respond. And it didn't help that, on the third floor, there was already a Marilyn, a Merrill, and a Mary. Mary Lee was yet another similar name to overload people's memories. Nobody could get her name right. Mindy and Bianca decided to call her ML.
It made her feel like a corporate logo, a piece of stock.
Madrigal I need you, she begged over the miles. But the twin waves remained silent.
It was worse than being alone: She felt unoccupied. A partly emptied mind and soul.
In the beginning, Mindy and Bianca escorted her everywhere, introducing her with smiles and hugs. But Mary Lee, homesick and heartsick, just stood there: the kind of boarder no school wants, because her only contribution is to lower morale.
The school year continued like a night without sleep.
Mary Lee had never had to make friends before. She had been equipped with an escort since birth. And even though she was so lonely her heart hurt, and she would have taken any pharmaceutical in production to ease the pain, she did not reach out.
Through the blinding loneliness, she saw that Mother and Father had been right: She was crippled by her twinness.
When Madrigal and Mary Lee sashayed into a room, action and speech ceased. People were fascinated. Twins are unusual. Identical twins are striking. Beautiful identical twins are an Event.
Mary Lee was just another pretty black-haired girl on a campus stocked with pretty girls. No longer an Event, she let herself become the reverse. A Non-Event.
At dinner, for which seats were assigned, companionship was enforced at a full table. But for breakfast and lunch, girls came when they were hungry, or awake. Some tables were empty while others were jammed. Mary Lee ached to join a packed table, yet sat at an empty one, yearning for the twin back home, for the life back home, the friends and school and parents and good things.
Whatever good there was at boarding school, Mary Lee ignored.
Within days she was branded: the sort of loser who sat alone; who had no friends and never would. Mindy and Bianca dutifully continued to be nice, and quietly asked the dorm mother if Mary Lee could be transferred to another room.
Mary Lee observed the dorm friendships. How lovely they were! How much Mary Lee wanted one for herself. If she had not had a twin, perhaps she would have possessed such a thing with Scarlett. Or Van. But the chance had gone by, she had been too absorbed by Madrigal to consider it, or to act upon it, and now Scarlett and Van and all that was home and good and safe were lost to her.
Among their other terrible orders when they enforced Separation, Mother and Father had ordered Mary Lee to tell nobody that she was an identical twin. "Am I supposed to hide it like some scandalous past?" she wept.
"No," said Father, "you're supposed to forget it, like some crippling past."
Forget that you were an identical twin? How could she?
In boarding school there was little history. It was as if they had all dumped something behind. They had all abandoned a twin or a parent or a past. They lived in the present, and Mary Lee's present did not include a twin. People didn't ask for background, and they quit asking Mary Lee anything.
When she thought of home — which was constantly — she thought mostly of questions she should have asked Mother and Father. There had to be more to this than they had explained. Why, if there had been too much togetherness, didn't they just make Mary Lee take different courses at school? Sign up for different sports? Get involved with different activities? Why couldn't she have gone to one of the private day schools in town — why pick a school nearly two thousand miles away?
Now and then Bianca and Mindy yelled at her, and told her to make an effort, and said if she was lonely it was her own fault.
My own fault, she thought. It must be all my fault, and none of Madrigal's fault, or Mother and Father wouldn't have done it this way. But what did I do?
She struggled to communicate with Madrigal by letter. The twins had certainly never written to each other before. In fact, they often skipped speaking. There was no need. They knew each other's thoughts and plans without speech.
One thousand nine hundred and twelve miles proved something terrible. Something Mary Lee would have been happier not knowing.
Dear Madrigal ... wrote Mary Lee twice a week. What to say next? It's terrible here; I miss you so; I want to come home!
She couldn't write that. The whole point was that Mary Lee and Madrigal had passed the point of normalcy and must be separated to be whole. And what was this whining, but proof?
So Mary Lee wrote lies. I am on the field hockey team, she wrote, although she was not.
My roommates Mindy and Bianca are wonderful, she wrote. That much was true. It was Mary Lee who was not proving to be a wonderful roommate.
My English teacher, Mrs. Spinney, thinks my writing is brilliant, she wrote, although Mrs. Spinney had given her C-minus on her last two papers.
Madrigal's letters were also full of lies.
She did not write nearly as often as Mary Lee. I am having a great year. What a good idea this was! What wonderful times I'm having.
No doubt Mother and Father supervised the writing of such paragraphs. She pictured them, ripping up the letter in which Madrigal wept and sobbed and confessed how awful it was without her twin, and dictating those hateful sentences: I am having a great year. What a good idea this was! What wonderful times I'm having.
Sometimes she remembered another sentence. Madrigal, Mother had said, will stay home under our supervision.
The twins had always behaved perfectly. When had they ever needed supervision?
Certainly boarding school was supervised. Mary Lee got used to it, as people get used to any form of torture. With cruel slowness, Christmas holidays inched closer.
Twenty days at home. Twenty days with Madrigal. Twenty days in which Mary Lee would not stand before a mirror, because she would be, and would have, a mirror. Her living twin. Her other self.
Excerpted from Twins by Caroline B. Cooney. Copyright © 1994 Caroline B. Cooney. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
i can't believe this thing is called a book. it doesn't even deserve to be published. there is no plot whatsoever. cooney tries to make drama in dialogue, but there's no drama AT ALL. there is no DIALOGUE! these kids are supposed to be seventeen, and they talk like their reading lines off their palms. they're also very stupid, and mary lee is supposed to be this amazing heroine, in other words the protagonist, but both she AND jon pear (what kind of name is that?) are antagonists, or come across as them. these parents make things worse multiple times. there is no literature involved, because cooney basically takes stupid things and drags them around like big things. no character development, plot, or meaning is put in this book, which i find disgrace to literature. there is no big secret, it's laying right out in the pages! and please, do twins really act so stupid? i'm friends with twins, and they act like they would even if they were ten years apart! ew! this stuff belongs in the gutter, i'm sorry, but it's true!
This book, frankly, doesn't even deserve half of a star. Whatever lesson it tried to teach was lost halfway through. An absolutely awful ending. Unrealistic pretenses for a book that I think was supposed to be realistic. The parents handled a bad situation and made it worse, lets see, about ten times. I expected more, even though I never had high expectations, this just blew my mind out of the water, I mean come on this is the worst book ever.
This book is the worst book I have ever read. I kept reading it thinking something good was gonna happen until I eventually finished the book. The back really makes yout think differently but when you read it, its nothing of what u expected. the think i dont understand is how they 'supposedly' feel the same things and all of that but the nice twin never knew the bad twin hated her. AND, since they went EVERYWHERE together, the good twin was bound to find out about the bad twins boyfriend. Dont read this book. its terrible.
How did this book, if you can call it that, ever get published? Do not waste your $$ or your time!!!! Terrible!!!!
READ IT ITS ASOME
Is it scary?
Never read it but from the comments, i probably shouldnt read it
I read this book when I was in 7th grade and now I'm 22. I chose to read it again because the story vaguely stuck with me and I remember it being really good. Now that I've finished, its very poorly written and the story is very fast and choppy. So to a middle schooler, this is an intense and interesting book but to an older reader, its pretty bad.
I didn't really care too much for this book. It was too fast paced and some things were just too unbelievable. Also it was weird the the evil boyfriend of Madrigal liked to eat people's tears. Look I'm so evil cuz I eat tears HA LOL! Seventeen year old Mary Lee has always had her identical twin sister Madrigal in her life to make her complete and feel whole. Her parents decide one day that separate space would be a good thing for the girls so they send Mary Lee a couple thousand miles away to a boarding school where she never fits in. Then her sister comes for a visit and they switch clothes right before they go meet everyone by the slopes for skiing. They switch clothes cuz Madrigal tells Mary Lee it would be funny to trick everyone. But then there is a terrible accident and Madrigal dies. Because Mary Lee is in her clothes ever thinks it was her Mary Lee that died. Now everyone thinks she is Madrigal and that she was the one to actually die. When she returns home she meets Madrigals crazy evil boyfriends Jon Pear and learns a different side of her twin she never knew or thought possible. Now the whole school hates and is afraid of her. Like I said there are a lot of things in this book that are really hard to believe and the tear thing kinda cracked me up lol! Read it for yourself and get a good laugh if you're bored(that's the only time I would recomend this book)
Twins by Caroline B. Cooney is a fictional novel. Twins is a suspenseful, drama filled novel. it keeps you wondering what will happen next in the twins, Mary Lee and Madrigal lives when the lose one another. In a modern day home, a large high school, and a beautiful boarding school is where Mary Lee and Madrigal take their journeys. Losing Madrigal in a terrible ski accident was the turning point of Mary Lee's life. Wearing her sisters clothes and switching lives with her twin was another. Now Mary Lee is faced with living her sister's life which she thought was perfect but ended up being a the worst days of her life. Being pretty, smart, and outgoing was hard for Mary Lee when forced to live in the sister's shoes. Mary Lee was none of those even if an identical twin. She pulls it off anyway by wearing her dead twins clothes, shoes, and even having her hair done perfectly. Mary Lee listens to her sister's cold blooded boyfriend as he thinks she is Madrigal (Mary Lee's sister). She remembers the good times she had with her friends and not Madrigal which makes her forget about her sister's death and worried about how to get out of her sticky situations. Caroline B. Cooney gives a great voice that makes you feel like you're in the book with the characters. She makes you use your senses. Such as your sense of touch and feel when she goes places and has problem in her journeys. This type of voice helps you understand the problems the character faces along with keeping you on the edge off your seat. People who love to find mystery, drama, love, and suspense in a novel, this is for you. You learn about the characters love and problems while being occupied with mystery and suspense and problem solving.
This was the first Caroline B. cooney book i read and after reading it i had to read more of her books.
Caroline B. Cooney inspired me to be an author. I read this book in 7Th grade and i can't stop reading. I actually enjoy reading! When i was younger i got bad grades and now i'm i started my first year of high school and i'm doing great.
i picked up this book because i liked cooney's books, and though this one would be good. it couldnt be worse. i can not relate to any of these people. i dont think any of them are realistic. if they are so gullible, blind, and dim, and they are like people today--then its a sad world we live in. and REALLY. this thing about no one telling their parents about madrigal and j.p.'s little 'hobby'--PLEASE. spare me. and there is nothing in these peoples language to hint that they are UNDER SIXTY YEARS OLD! the only people who talk like that are poets from the 1800s. the plot was awful. and while most books have a lesson, all i got was 'be nice and forgiving'. you know, sometimes mary lee is a horrible role model because she looks in the light, whether or not what she sees is true. i found mary lee kind of ditsy. i like cooney's books, she is a wonderful author. but this book would tell you otherwise. do not buy this book if you value time, money, and good books. it was a waste of my money and my time.
I love how realistic this book is!!! God, you would think that the twins were one person until their secrets were revealed. Well ya gotta read it to know what the secret was!!!
This is one of my favorite books and the book that got me started on reading Caroline B. Cooney's other outstanding books.I know other people who have read this book and they all said that this was an awesome book!See for youself and read it!
WOW! what a great book! I myself am a twin ......this book is now one of my favorites...it seems so lifelike and everything!
Twins is an interesting mix up story that you¿ll never forget. You would think they are exactly alike, but no they are very, very different. It all starts with one of the twins being sent away to the all girl boarding school by her parents. They think it is the right thing to do and so does Madrigal, Mary Lee¿s twin. When she arrives to the boarding school she does not know anybody except the 3 girls who lives in her dorm room. But as the year goes on she becomes less and less popular. She tries to keep in touch with her sister by their soul voice that keeps them connected but she didn¿t. So when winter came she invited her sister to the skiing trip with her. Madrigal accepted. All the people at her school loved madrigal and Mary Lee was by herself. So madrigal came up with a clever idea, to switch places. So they switched their clothes and when they went back and joined the crowd, everyone hung around Mary Lee because they thought that she was Madrigal. Well Madrigal now hung out by herself, until a very terrible thing happened. While they were riding the chair lift Madrigal fell off and when she hit the ground she died. Well the problem is everyone thought it was Mary Lee. So that¿s where the story begins! Mary Lee goes home in place of Madrigal. When she gets to her school no one likes her. Mary Lee thinks how in the world can they not like me? But it¿s all because of her boyfriend. She finds out what their hobby is and the horror behind it. This is a great book if you love mix-ups and drama. You will be hooked to the book when you read the first page. You will also learn a valuable lesson from this book and realize most people like you for who you are not for what you look like. I loved this book because it isn¿t your traditional reading material. Caroline Cooney the author of this book is brilliant. She comes up with the most creative story lines. And when you read one of her books you will want to read all of them! But out of all the books she wrote I think this one is the best so far! If you read this book you will like it too.
This Is A Great Book, I would Reccomend This Book To N E 1 !!! If U R A Book Lover Like Me, READ THIS BOOK!!
I got this book for Easter and finished it that day! It was great. And I would recommend it to anyone! (Just be prepared for having butterflies in your stomach;the book is really nerve racking!)
I absolutely loved this book! I am thirteen and I normally read books that are meant for adults because I don't like reading teen books, but this book was terrific! I couldn't put it down, I saw it one day in the book store and wanted it but didn't have any money and the next day I had gotten it for Christmas and finished it! You should read it!
This book was GREAT. Once I started reading it I couldnt put it down- I finished it on the day I bought it! A real page turner. I recomend this book to all of Cooneys fans. You won't be disapointed
this book was super. the way the twins were like stuck together was so funny. when one of the twins died and the other twin stepped in, that was really weird. the saddest part of the book was when the twins boyfriend told a girl to get in the car and then he drove to a bad part of town, then left her there. that was so mean.
Caroline B. Cooney is certainly a wonderful writer. This book was great, but I have read better books by her...