“Have you ever been afraid of being trapped in someone else’s life?”


Having read this sentence, I was already virtually conquered. By now it i should be clear that I read everything but I have a predilection for thrillers, especially those with a psychological basis.

The identity loss is a theme that I particularly like and I think that is the reason why I follow the TV series Orphan Black with such passion. And for the same reason I was unable to separate myself from reading, “Beside Myself“, the fictional debut of the English Ann Morgan.

Two twins and a game that is as simple as it is dangerous: swap for a while and see if anyone notices that.

I believe that any homozygous couple has done it at least once, perhaps to avoid an interrogation, to test friends, or simply as a joke.

A game.

Nothing more.

But what if one of the two doesn’t want to go back? If the exchange becomes permanent? What if it’s so deep that you doubt it really was there?

“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, Beside Myself

This happens to the protagonist of this crazy thriller, which I took to the beach in these first summer days and which I finished in a few days. She finds herself trapped in the life of her twin. But is she really? Did he just imagine it? Who is she really?

And here comes the second theme that I love to explore: mental illness, which however is never made explicit during the novel, it is only vaguely implied that there is a defect in the whole Sallis family.

I loved the mirror narration, a chapter in the past in the first person and one in the present in the third, as to indicate the loss of identity over time. The descriptions of the protagonists’ thoughts are scrupulous, even in the chapters where the narrator is an external third person, thus allowing the reader to fully understand all the characters and understand their actions. Helen is sure she has lost the game, and she doesn’t give up, she fights to take back what is rightfully hers. But when she reveals herself stronger, she sinks into an abyss with no return, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, alcohol.

“She had no history and nothing to plan for. It was all over for the time being. She just was.”
― Ann Morgan, Beside Myself

It is a strong book, of great impact, which despite its few characters manages to build an entire narrative town. Which delves into our deepest fears, from the loss of our safety, of our uniqueness, to not being believed, derided, shunned. Humiliated.

Isolation is what I perceive the most from this book. And it was nice to read it by the sea, surrounded by the sun, the waves, the happy people, and still feel the sense of anguish and loneliness of Ellie / Smudge … With Sia’s tormented voice * as the soundtrack …

Have you ever felt this way?

“Like your insides are too close to the surface?”
― Ann Morgan, Beside Myself

I did.

 I know what it’s like to feel completely alone even in a crowd. And I think Morgan describes it with great ability.

Can a game become so dangerous? Could I react differently? What would I do if someone took my identity? And what if she/he lives it better than I do …

And if no one believed me, not even the closest people. I was with the Sallis twins only one week but I think they will stay with me forever because we live in a world where getting lost is all too easy