If you happen to be Twinsburg, Ohio this weekend, you’ll notice that the city is definitely living up to its name. That’s because Twinsburg hosts an annual Twins Day Festival on the first weekend of the August. In honor of what the Guinness Book of World Records has titled as the largest gathering of twins in the world, here’s a retrospective of teen books with twins that helped define the past thirty years.
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
This book hit the scene in 1979 and definitely made some waves. While it wasn’t published specifically as young adult lit, this bestseller features four siblings: Cathy, Chris, and twins Cory and Carie. When their mother can’t afford to take care of them anymore, the family moves in with their grandmother. Weirdly, their grandmother banishes them to a locked attic. Things get stranger and stranger from there, in this book that scandalized many and has been passed around school yards for over thirty years because of its voyeristic and incestious content.
Sweet Valley High by Francine Pascal
If you ask the random person on the street to name the quintessential teen book that featured twins, they would probably not hesitate before naming this uber-popular book series. Created by Francine Pascal (but shhh — she used ghost-writers for many of the books), this series featured the pretty and popular identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Over the twenty years they were in print, readers were treated to 152 Sweet Valley High books. Whether you identify with Jessica, the social butterfly who loves fashion, or Elizabeth, the sensible bookworm, these California girls were the talk of the lockers in the 80s.
Twins by Caroline B. Cooney
Caroline B. Cooney was part of the explosion of action, horror, and supernatural books for teens that happened in the nineties. Like her counterparts R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike, Cooney turned out page turners that featured mysteries, ghostly curses, and larger-than-life tragedies. Twins starts out ominously — the titular Mary Lee and Madrigal do so much together that they’re thought of as two halves of one whole. When the girls decide to play a prank on their friends by switching outfits before they go skiing one day, everything is good — until one of the twins dies. Mary assumes her sister’s identity and discovers some dark secrets that show her that she didn’t know Madrigal nearly as well as she thought.
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
This novel in verse, like Hopkins’s other works, examines realistic teens dealing with incredibly difficult situations. Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins who seem to have the perfect lives. Under the surface, though, is a deeply rotten family life, complete with an absent mother and an abusive father. Although at times difficult to read because of the brutality of the situations, it is a masterful work of literature that helped redefine the category of young adult literature in the first decade of the 21st century.
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
This slightly supernatural mystery series starts with Sutton waking up in a bathtub with no memory of how she got there. Things get stranger when a girl who looks just like her walks into the room — and can’t see Sutton at all. Sutton slowly realizes that the girl she is looking at is Emma, her identical twin. The reason Emma can’t see her? Sutton is dead as a doornail. Complete with twin-switching, murder, red herrings, and tense scenes galore, this book definitely toes the line between campy and thrilling, which makes it an amazing beach read. If you’re not in to cliff hangers, though, you may want to look elsewhere, as the fourth book in this five-book series just came out last month!
— Ariel Cummins, currently reading Batman: Knightfall Volume 2