What’s mine is yours, and what is yours is mine. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure (Act 5 Scene 1. Line 576)
Of course that sort of agreement is much easier to abide by when the other party is deceased. One of the best things about reading in my opinion are the varying emotions reading a book engenders, the thoughts and feelings that I try to share, sometimes with mixed results, with my friends. Being a bookish sort I often find myself partaking in long, often spirited debates about the books I have read of which A Million Miles Away was no exception. In my immediate reading circle, if not in life I am the adventurous one for lack of a better term or so it seems.
(From Goodreads) – When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.
As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.
When I saw the cover of A Million Miles Away I was immediately captivated. I have a thing for freckles, what can I say? Besides, can anyone resist a black and white portrait? Certainly not me, the description was decidedly soapy but I was willing to take the risk. The story seized my attention from the outset and quite against her will I held my friend hostage as I read and shared this entertaining, if highly implausible novel.
Kelsey is a party girl, the antithesis of her twin, who is the stereotypical introspective artistic type. At the story’s outset she is at the center of the action literally and figuratively, of which her twin is suspiciously absent. When she does locate Michelle, she is holed up in her room with a guy. Someone Kelsey has never met before, accustomed to her sister’s many “strays” she doesn’t take much notice of Peter until the following morning when he mistakes her for her twin. They share an electric moment before Kelsey identifies herself and Peter claims to have just in that instant recognized her. Foreshadowing anyone?
Unbeknownst to Kelsey, Michelle has been seeing Peter for the past three months and they are “in love“. This underscores that despite the fact that they share the same DNA they are far from the closest of siblings. It may be rather judgemental on my part but Michelle also seemed to be a bit of a bitch at least from what I gleaned from their exchange the night prior. That may have simply been a plot device to make Kelsey’s actions from that point forward more palatable but there you have it.
Tragically Michelle is killed returning from the airport where she left Peter before his deployment to Afghanistan. Unable to face the idea of going into her room and frankly lacking the technological know how Kelsey’s mother asks her to log onto Michelle’s Facebook account to close it. As she is doing so Kelsey’s answers a Skype call from overseas, the connection is bad and understandably Peter again mistakes Kelsey for Michelle. Of course conveniently before she has a chance to tell Peter what happened to her sister the call is disconnected.
There was never any danger that my friend would read this novel as in general she takes a very dim view of N/A fiction. For many reasons, a number of which, I cannot fault her as in my more mature moments I agree whole heartedly with her. However, despite her complete lack of interest I felt compelled to share Kelsey’s plight and delighted in her reactions to them. I will have you know that I did not remove the wings from flies for my enjoyment in my childhood though torturing my friend may have been akin to that sort of behaviour.
In fact when I initially sketched the generalities of the plot I believe her response was something along the lines of “No, no, NO! This is what is wrong with N/A! She is going to steal her sister’s boyfriend and be all sad and maudlin’ about it throughout the entire book! No matter how wrong what she has done is, when it is all over she will be rewarded with a happy ending! What kind of example is that!” I am sure this makes me a terrible person but I seem to get as much enjoyment out of her rants as I do the latest Buzzfeed Matt’s #whineaboutit Wednesday videos, which is significant. I think Buzzfeed Matt may be my soul mate…but please don’t tell my husband. Either that or I really would enjoy having a job that would require my quaffing large quantities of wine and “keepin’ things real”.
I found myself thinking throughout the novel “Really, Kelsey? You couldn’t have told Peter the truth, if not during the first Skype call then at least during the second?” Albeit then the story would have been very short or a very different one altogether. But that is the parent in me, the other side, the obviously more morally ambiguous one figured it was the risk you take when dealing with identical twins. Again please remember my formative years were in the 80s after all.
Unlike when I listened to Broken Juliet on my commute and all those sharing the road with me were in jeopardy, I was that enraged by what I was hearing. While reading A Million Miles Away I found myself quickly typing emails to my pal to update her on the story’s progress. If that is not an indicator of enjoyment or at least emotional investment I don’t know what is. This was her response when I told her that the time had come for Kelsey to pay the piper, in her defence she was a bit cranky at the time.
Ultimately I am not sure if it was my friend’s curmudgeonly responses or the complete implausibility of the story itself but I enjoyed it a great deal or at the very least I enjoyed talking about it. Was Kelsey in the wrong for taking her sister’s place? Undoubtedly. Would this ever happen in real life? Unlikely. Would I read it again? Unquestionably.