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One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to Be Singular Hardcover – October 20, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Jane Isay Reviews One and the Same

Jane Isay is the author of Walking on Eggshells and the forthcoming Mom Still Likes You Best. She has been an editor for over 40 years and edited such nonfiction classics as Reviving Ophelia, Praying for Sheetrock, and Friday Night Lights. She lives in New York City, not too far from her children and grandchildren. Read her exclusive Amazon guest review of One and the Same:

Abigail Pogrebin’s One and the Same: My Life As an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned about Everyone’s Struggle to be Singular is a terrific travelogue through the world of identical--and fraternal--twins. She tells the story of the twin experience from the inside out, and shines a smart and loving light on this special relationship. Pogrebin brings heart and brains to her own experiences with her twin sister Robin, from infancy to a ripe maturity. And she has done prodigious amount of research, speaking with scores of twins--together and apart--and interviewing dozens of experts on all aspects of the twin experience.

Modern medicine has given us more multiple births every year, and so more and more people are parents of twins. When we see so many pairs of kids riding in their double strollers, we ask ourselves so many questions.

What’s going on in their little minds as they grow up together? Do they feel like they’re one person, or two? How do they relate to other kids in school? Do they feel that it’s a privilege to be a twin, or do they find it a burden? What about the social expectations that they should love each other best and should be ever so close? How do they separate enough to get married and form their own families? What is the mistake parents most often make in rearing their twins?

Abigail Pogrebin has answers to these questions and many more. In each chapter she writes a bit about her and her sister, and then brings in testimony from other twins and the experts. In addition, this book is valuable because of the light it sheds on all sibling relationships by describing the closest pairs we know. Even people without a twin in their lives--and most of us are fascinated by twins--will benefit from reading One and the Same.

If you’re considering IVF, if you are a twin or have a twin, or are married to a twin, or dating one, this book is a necessity. In addition, Abigail Pogrebin’s family is one of those singularly successful and loving ones, and basking in the warmth of her life is a pleasure.--Jane Isay

(Photo © Robin Holland)

Abigail Pogrebin on One and the Same

Who knows what makes each of us feel distinctive in the world, understood, really known? If individuality is a hurdle, it’s raised that much higher when you’re a twin. I started my book, One and the Same, to plumb the depths and intricacies of growing up as a double, but also because I knew that twinship is just a magnified version of everyone’s challenge: individuality.

What made it complicated for me and my twin, Robin, are the same elements that can make it complicated for any person: a sense of being blurred, over-compared, generalized; an uncertainty whether the people in your life truly know you apart from others. Psychologist Joan Friedman, a twin and parent of twins (who counsels both) talks about the difference between "being noticed, and being known." I know that difference. As an identical twin, you definitely get noticed; my sister and I were kind of famous just by virtue of looking so alike. (And okay, we were kind of cute before we hit the merciless stage of adolescence.)

But the inherent "star power" in twinship has a short shelf life. Ultimately you need to feel sure of a separate worth, an identity beyond twinship. If I’m not mistaken, we all need the clarity of uniqueness. What do I bring to the table? How will I leave my mark? What do I have with this friend that’s unlike what they have with someone else? It’s not that we spend all our days self-obsessed, asking how we’re special, but there’s some fundamental need to know we’re singular.

My parents could not have been more loving, stimulating, or "modern" in their childrearing, but it literally never occurred to them to spend time with Robin and me separately and that omission backfired at the end of the day. When I interviewed my mother for my book, and asked her why she and Dad never took us anywhere separately, she looked pained. "Because we didn’t think that way," she told me. "We just thought in terms of doing things as a family. I should have been aware of it because I should have been smart enough to figure out that something is gained when you’re alone with a person. I should have realized that. But it never occurred to us. It always was a matter of 'Let’s. Not: 'You come with me and you go with him.'"

She said they realized their mistake in one powerful instant when I was eighteen and they invited me to go with them for a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast. "You said you were uncomfortable coming along because you’d never been alone with us. It was like somebody shot us between the eyes; we couldn’t believe it. ‘How could this have happened?’ We never noticed that we had never been with one child."

"It was clear that you felt you had a performance level you had to keep up," my father recalls, "and you felt that, without Robin, you wouldn’t be able to hold up your end in terms of pleasing us, as if that was anything you had to do. So that was a real realization that we’d missed something. I think we were always so careful to have equality of treatment that it turned out to be undifferentiated."

Psychologist Dorothy Burlingham wrote in her 1954 study of identical twins that mothers can’t connect to their twins until they get to know them apart from each other. "Several mothers have plainly said that it was impossible to love their twins until they had a found a difference in them," Burlingham wrote. That could be rephrased for all of us, twin and non-twin alike: it’s impossible to feel loved, acknowledged, understood, valued unless we’re sure people have "found a difference" in us. Unless we’re sure we’re uncommon or particular in some way.

One and the Same is a window into the truth about twinship. But it’s also, I think, an unpacking of how we each ultimately find a way to say, "Look at me alone."--Abigail Pogrebin

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Pogrebin (Stars of David) explores in a palatable, nonscholarly format some of the sticky issues of identity that accompany being a twin. Enjoying an extreme intimacy from embryo to adulthood, twins, especially identical, achieve a unique, somewhat exclusive self-sufficiency that can be comforting and enriching as well as stifling and restricting. Pogrebin, whose own twin, New York Times reporer Robin, grew less needy for the other's presence as they grew older, interviews numerous twins in various walks of life to probe the source and stages of their emotional development, from football stars Tiki and Ronde Barber to a pair of 86-year-olds who were operated on by Dr. Mengele at Auschwitz. Some of the recurrent topics that Pogrebin superficially explores include the sense of not needing other people as much as twins need each other, thus making it harder to find intimacy outside of the duo; feeling jilted when the other finds a partner or spouse (Anybody who marries a twin, asserts one, has to understand that they're marrying two people); dealing with the amplified competition and constant comparison; parental favoritism; and the importance of establishing a distinct identity from the other. Touching on timely medical topics such as the risky business of multiple births, especially by in vitro fertilization, and recent discoveries in DNA research, Pogrebin's personal journey will prove helpful to other twins, but is not the end word on the subject. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385521561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385521567
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Because most of us will never know what it's like to be a twin, twinship is often seen as fascinating, mysterious and magical. In this captivating book, Abigail Pogrebin blends a memoir of her life as an identical twin with interviews of other twins, along with scientific reporting of the twin phenomenon.

I expected this book to be interesting (and it fully met my expectations), but I couldn't foretell how often it would make my heart ache. Abigail doesn't hold back, courageously revealing the sometimes painful longing she has for more closeness with Robin, her twin, while also discussing the wonderful aspects of their relationship. Although it isn't surprising to learn the strength of emotional intensity in being an identical twin, some aspects of the relationship are a revelation. Abigail tells readers that she has a life partner in her sister, someone with whom she is compelled to share her deepest thoughts and whose opinions she treasures. But there's another side to the coin: Abigail takes on any emotional distress Robin shares with her and is devastated by any spat with her sister. She also is frank about her sorrow in a certain recent distancing in their relationship, one emanating from Robin.

Abigail's personal story weaves between the tales of other twins, as well as interviews with experts on twin relationships. She begins with a meander through a town named for twins: Twinsburg, Ohio. Twinsburg celebrates twins with an annual Twins Day, which began in 1976. Today, thousands of pairs of twins from all over the world attend the event. Abigail, who visited it in 2006, was a bit embarrassed by the sight of many grown twins dressed identically, but she also felt off kilter without Robin.
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Format: Paperback
As a grown identical twin I was so excited when I found this book! As we've gotten older, my twin sister and I have noticed that we are becoming more and more different. I think this has been somewhat more challenging for me than for her and I was hoping "One and the Same" would have stories that I could identify with. I loved all of the interviews she did with twins, especially when it was a set of twins being interviewed together. I know the feeling of sharing sentences, and even sharing memories!

I admired the authors extensive research into all sorts of twin related things-- science, art, pregnancy, IVF, even death-- but sometimes I wanted more stories! Rather than hearing about the ethical issues of IVF and the boom of twins that this has caused, I wanted to hear more stories from twins themselves or even parents of twins.

I did enjoy hearing about the full range of twins. While there are many shared traits, such as the undeniable intimacy, many sets had their own unique story: one is gay, one is needy, they grew up extremely shy, they grew up extremely confident. The book looks at the very romantic aspects of being a twin and also the darker, more challenging parts.

All in all, I definitely enjoyed reading this book, I was just not in it for the science. I am glad that there is a book out there like this, since I haven't been able to find anything else comparable. It makes me want to tell the story of my twinship and share it with others!
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Format: Hardcover
People called me, in lieu of my "real name", "hey twin". Everyone assumed my twin and I (who are identical) were one and the same.

My mother's mother and her fraternal twin sister looked different enough that this didn't happen.

I am sure my sons won't suffer the same fate as I did. At least, I pray they won't. They are fraternals. But still and all, this book was and is amazing. It is a MUST read for every mother and father parenting twins out there. It encapulates the twin experience.

Since Abigail is a twin, she knows wherein she speaks. It takes a twin to be able to articulate the multiple/HOM experience and NO book out there about parenting twins (unless you happen to be a twin, parenting twins) and the unique identity and how careful you must be... is as succinct and helpful as this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book I would highly recommend to twins, parents, siblings & friends of twins. In fact, I got this book for a few people in my life.

When I got the book, I started in the middle... the part where the author so delicately describes individuation. A term that I have embraced. She is able to explain the idiosyncricies of growing up a twin. Looking back at my life I now understand why I was immature, codependent & held some sense of entitlement. To be a twin, you can always have that 'safety net' that you are always accepted by someone else "your twin".

My daughters' elementary school counselor gets one. My hopes are that she will be able to use this information to empower twins at a young age. Through the elementary years when kids emotional & physical development are blossoming this book could help assist them to becoming an individual. It could give parents permission to let go of the 'twins'. My mom & dad really did a great job with us... we were not easy to raise!

My college roommate will receive a book as well. Maybe my way to say 'thank-you & I am so sorry' all at once to her. Lisa may have been the first person that actually new me as an individual... well, she witnessed my growing pains (the ones most kids go through in jr high & high school). My twin & I had never been apart until college. Looking back, I probably treated her like my twin... suffocating her!

My book went to my twin friend. He has only been able to read through the preface because it is so overwhelming to him, emotionally. His mirror twin died a few years ago. He told me this book "gets it".

This book has been healing for me.

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