Six-year-old Helen and Ellie are identical twins, but Helen is smarter, more popular, and their mother's favorite. Ellie, on the other hand, requires special instruction at school, is friendless, and is punished at every turn.
Until they decide to swap places--just for fun, and just for one day--and Ellie refuses to switch back. Everything of Helen's, from her toys to her friends to her identity, now belongs to her sister. With those around her oblivious to her plight, the girl who used to be Helen loses her sense of self and withdraws into a spiral of behavioral problems, delinquency, and mental illness. In time, she's not even sure of her memory of the switch.
Twenty-five years later, she receives a call that threatens to pull her back into her sister's dangerous orbit. Will she take this chance to face her past?
In British author Morgan's intriguing first novel, identical twins Ellie and Helen Sallis decide to swap roles after their father's death when they're four. When outgoing Helen, the narrator, tries to end the game soon afterward, socially awkward Ellie continues to pretend to be Helen, denying that she's Ellie. Despite Helen's fervent protests, the sisters' self-absorbed and unsupportive mother believes the new Helen, concluding that "Ellie" is lying to be difficult. As a consequence of the switch, "Helen" (the real Ellie) becomes popular and a good student, while "Ellie" (the real Helen) fulfills the low expectations of her mother and friends by acting out. Over time, the game begins to spiral out of control. "Helen" becomes a famous talk show host with a husband and daughter, while "Ellie" is barely functional. The reader must piece together what, if anything, is true about Helen's story as her family's secrets slowly surface. The arc of each girl's life and the game's tragic trajectory make for riveting and suspenseful reading.