“What you put out there and what people take away are two totally separate things. People’s minds process things in diverse ways. Everyone lives in different worlds, which is sort of sad but also has potential if you can work out how to turn it to your advantage.” – Ann Morgan.
I received a digital copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Beside Myself is the story of Helen who has a twin sister, Ellie. One day, they decide to swap identities in order to play a trick, but then Ellie refuses to swap back and return to their normal selves.
Helen is now stuck as Ellie, she loses her clothes, her friends and even the favour of their mother and she can’t make things right because no one believes her.
Skip twenty-five years and Helen is still identified as Ellie, but when she receives a phone call for the first time in years, will she be able to finally make her family see the truth?
I enjoyed this book so much. As you all know, I love psychological thrillers, so this book was right up my street. There is suspense and mystery and the ending was not at all what I expected, so while I wasn’t overly keen on the ending, it did shock me and I was satisfied to the extent that we got to the bottom of everything and no stone was left unturned and it was somewhat happy.
The book is written so that we are reading from two periods of Helen’s life at once. We would hear about Helen when she was younger and then the following chapter would be an older Helen, then it would switch back and forth throughout the book. I really enjoyed this format because the suspense would build in one chapter and then you’d have to read a chapter set at a different stage of her life straight after which would also be building in suspense and I equally enjoyed reading from both periods. It all fit together so well so that we learnt snippets of information at the right time and then we’d be left having to wait a whole chapter to hear more. This book definitely captured my attention and kept me reading until the very end.
Another thing which interested me about the writing is the perspective it is written in. It is mostly written as if you are Helen which really intrigued me and really made me sympathise a lot with her character. This is even more interesting because Helen struggles with her mental health and this is clearly depicted in the writing since we read every thought that crosses her mind.
As I said before, I wasn’t keen on the ending. This is because I just found it rather heart breaking and I couldn’t believe that someone would do what they did (sorry, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone!), but saying that I definitely enjoyed the surprise. I mean, I would never have predicted that, so points for originality! Also, looking back I feel that the ending we were given was very much for the best and am now a bit happier about it now that I am aware of all the facts.
However, I kind of feel like it doesn’t all make as much sense as I would like. Helen and Ellie were clearly very different. How did Helen’s friends not notice? I don’t know about you, but my best friends and I have inside jokes which surely Ellie wouldn’t have known about. Furthermore, Ellie is described as being mentally slow, so having to sit with the rest of the class for lessons all of a sudden would surely have made been a big change from spending her time creating stories through her drawings, right? Wouldn’t her teachers have noticed? Those are just a couple of things that don’t sit right with me.
A final thing I possibly, strangely enjoyed was that the book reminded me of when I studied psychology and learning about debates as it makes you wonder if Helen’s mental illness was a result of nature (her father suffered with it as did her sister), or nurture (was it the events following the swap that led to it)? It’s no wonder I love psychological thrillers, right?
Overall, I really liked this book and rate it 4/5. If you enjoy psychological thrillers too then I would definitely recommend this book.
Have you read Beside Myself? What were your thoughts?