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?
©2016 Ann Morgan (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
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"A brilliantly written but painful story."
This story is hard for me to rate. On the one hand, I LOVED the author's brilliant writing and psychological insight. On the other hand, it was a painful listen. For 12+ hours, I listened to the main character endure one psychological blow after another. I almost gave up on this one, because my empathy for the character made it a torturous listen! If I were rating the writing, I'd give it 5 stars for sure. In the end, I deducted one star because...frankly...I'm relieved to be finished with this one!
This is a sad story and pretty dark and upsetting at times, but is well written and worth a listen, but only if ur not easily upset.
"Excellent and unusual story of twins"
This book takes an in-depth look at twins in an identity crisis. I've known identical twins who swapped places to take exams in high school because each was better at one subject or other, but never considered what would happen if one refused to switch back. This is quite a gripping story, and avoids the twin cliches present in other suspense stories I've read. A true psychological thriller, full of madness and sadness and love.
Really enjoyed the narration, but seriously thought the story would go someplace interesting, with a big twist at the end, though this never happened. Instead, the story just seemed to wrap up on a rather predictable note. Will probably return it, and use my credit on a much better book.
"not a thriller or suspense"
no twists or turns, just a story about a troubled twin and her family. A little hard to follow at first, a little confusing. I would categorize this as a dark drama. Interesting story but not what I thought and I'm rather confused about all the other reviews.
"a creepy, twisted psychological thriller"
I chose to listen to Beside Myself and loved the narrator Lisa Coleman. She did a fantastic job with character voices and it was not an easy task. I was able to identify who was speaking from young Ellie (Helen) to adult Ellie (Helen) and the many different personalities. She even captured Ellie and Helen’s cruel mother in all her venomous glory.
I will warn you, none of the characters are likeable or even reliable. Ellie and Helen have an awful mother and I had evil thoughts about her. Morgan puts forth a scenario that is freaking scary and shares the consequences. The stories told through Ellie’s perspective who is the “real Helen.” Morgan uses “you” rather than “I” when Ellie (Helen) relays the story and I found it clever. Her childhood is dark, and there are quite a few triggers for those who are sensitive. View Spoiler » She grows up in the shadow of Helen the “real Ellie” and is cast into the role of underachiever, troublemaker and second best. It is all rather unnerving. Of course, the louder she protests the more she looks and acts like the real Ellie.
As adult Ellie, (the real Helen) refers to herself in third person as Smudge and is quite delusional. She is estranged from her family and refuses any contact with her sister. When her sister falls into a coma, things come to a head. She discovers her sister was on her way to see her when the accident occurred. Forced back into their circle she wonders if she may finally be able to prove who she really is. Things get complicated and twisted as truths are revealed. It was quite crazy and I found myself completely wrapped up in the unraveling of it.
Beside Myself touched on psychological disorder, dysfunctional family, the effects of trauma and more. While I found the story to be compelling there were occasions when I rolled my eyes at this collection of family members and the situations the author placed them in. Not everything that happened seemed plausible or perhaps too much happened. Either way I enjoyed listening.
"Ingeniously woven story!"
This is one of those stories that you don't want to stop listening to. Filled with short comings and flaws, the characters are very human. Everyone has a relative who is like Helen and Ellie's mother. I also feel that the description of mental illness was amazing. Good listen!
I chose Beside Myself in spite of what I thought was a schmaltzy title, because of my interest in twin-ship. I was surprised to we swept up in an engrossing story, played out on the roller coaster ride of bi-polar disorder. This is not a mystery novel with a twist. It is the heartbreaking portrayal of a woman's struggle to live with mental illness.
I rate books but I don't often comment. I just can't move on to the next book until I state how perfect this book is. I work with traumatized children and this book rings true in so many ways. Amazing.
The way the story was told from the little girls perspective and the same girl as an adult..then the two storylines coming together at the end, Excellent and not what you would expect
Brilliant audio book. The narration was excellent. The story hooked me from the start and it was a well written and insightful description of mental health difficulties. Am sad I've finished this one.
"Extraordinary insight to a fractured mind"
I can scarcely believe this is a debut novel, such is the deftness of the writing. The characters are well drawn and as we are sucked into the damaged minds of the twins I really felt as though I understood what it might be like to suffer the highs and lows of a bi-polar disorder. This is not a psychological thriller in the 'whodunnit' sense, but a psychological drama which captures the reader from the outset and delivers them somewhat exhausted out the other end. I can not recommend this book highly enough.
Smudge - from the incipient signs of the illness which was to later grip and dictate her life, the reader (listener) was able to understood her reactions and motivations. Extraordinary.
Beautiful narration with total understanding for the characters and the content.
very hard to put this book down, gripping story line. very good insight to mental health issues and the impact on how people are treated .the reader has to keep thinking what is real
best book i have read in a long time, much better than anything i have read recently and i read a book a week
the flash back between present and past is done very well
gripping family saga
a must read!!!!
A must listen! I devoured this audiobook in two sittings, great story with fitting narration.
"Gripping, terrifying & depressingly real"
I had to put the book down to come up for air every now and again as at times the reality of mental illness combined with the cruelty of human kind was a lot to bear, but the book kept me wanting to wade through the darkness to follow the little pin pricks of light & hope shining through. I thought it was very well written giving a rounded insight in to the world of a mentally ill person fighting her way to fit in to society the best she can. It is a journey of eventual of hope and acceptance.
"One of the best I have listened to"
This book is intriguing, strange and interesting.
The characters are well written and you really care about the central protagonist.
Narration is also top notch.
I am sad to have finished this as I felt like I had gone on a journey with the main character and also because this is the author's debut novel so there is nothing else available to fill the void.
I liked it very much, didn't mind the accents at all. Great read and narrator.
"an extraordinary, utterly original idea"
It was very uncomfortable reading the first chapters - I felt so frustrated for Helen it was almost too much to bear but I am SO glad I did - what unfolded was a brilliant, intricate tale of confusion, helplessness in the face of not being heard, abuse, loss, mental illness - but through the eyes of Helen who tells the story in such a fabulously original voice you feel bound to not look away. I wanted to reach into the book and protect her.
So many, and so many would be spoilers. It shocks you and pulls the rug from under you constantly.
I savoured it. I stopped and thought about it after every couple of chapters.
Lisa Coleman narrating this wonderful book NEVER lets you down. I could not imagine Helen/Smudge with any other voice. She's a fine actress.
"Besides Myself by Ann Morgan"
Very good read although you need to suspend disbelief sometimes, but not enough to spoil what is nonetheless an engrossing narrative.
"Try not to give up"
I very nearly gave up on this book about a quarter of the way in. The premise of the story seemed too implausible. For some reason I did continue and am glad that I did. The reasons behind characters' behaviour, which at the time seem to stretch my imagination a bit too far, do become clearer and more understandable as the book progresses.
Ultimately it is an interesting look at the nature of identity, mental health, what it os that makes us the people we are.
It is well narrated in my opinion.
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