Untwine by Edwidge Danticat | Rating: ★★★★★
“People say that things like this happen in slow motion, as though you suddenly become an astronaut in the antigravity chamber of your own life. This wasn't true for me. Things were speeding up instead, and I did my best to slow them down in my mind.”
As a note, a finished copy of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
In a tune similar to that of If I Stay, readers can expect to have their hearts break in half and a box of tissues is the ultimate required companion when diving into Untwine. Edwidge Danticat releases the thoroughly touching (fictional) story of twin sister’s Isabelle and Giselle Boyer and the accident that separates them between life and death. Untwine reflects on their lives spent as sisters and the very accident that kills one.
Danticat proves once more how solid her prose is; her writing chops bring on their best emotions for readers as they get to know Giselle and her thoughts and those moments, and years, leading up to the accident that will change her family’s life forever and beyond. More importantly, Untwine reflects on that past and approaches grief in a way that is honest and hopeful and full of a lot of emotional turmoil.
It suits the thought that many of us have in our life: the fear of losing a loved one. There’s something terribly real about the way the grief overcomes Giselle in many notes and I think that this is the most important part of the novel. She goes through all the typical ranges and stages of grief, making her utterly obtainable and sympathetic. Most of us can only imagine the heartache that would come with a loss so large, but the pain is only magnified when you consider their closeness.
As she looks back on the life she had–just near seventeen years with her sister–we can’t help but to fall in love with them both and as readers, we too feel the loss of Isabelle. We see the seconds leading up to the accident, the fact that the girls were holding onto each other in the worst of it and I think that this, along with their contrasting personalities yet undeniable closeness, is the biggest nod to human emotion.
Because of this, it hits us. Really hits us. The gravity of all that was lost on that fateful day. What Giselle lost, what her parents lost and most importantly what Isabelle lost.
Untwine is by far one of the best novels I’ve read in recent times and proves to be superior to its counterparts. It isn’t an incredibly unique story in retrospect, but the grace and emotion that Edwidge Danticat weaves through each plot; each narration and memory, is what makes it standout. It’s what makes it unforgettable.
Because of the subject matter, not everyone is going to feel the same way. It’s true that Untwine won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it still is a very important release.
Other important things to note:
Accurate portrayal of parents potentially (that’s a lot of P’s, Jessica) splitting up, the loss of a loved one, fantastic POC leads, a heavy feeling in not identifying someone properly in their death or recovery, heartfelt narration and thoughtful lines that will be begging you to highlight and the road to recovery/moving on.
Overall, Untwine is something that will leave readers breathless and deep in thought.
It’s a story unlikely to be forgotten and it’s as beautiful as it is devastating. I appreciate getting to know Giselle and to see her family through her eyes. There was something stunning (stun me!) about the way the story unfolded and although it is sad in tone, it’s also uplifting and vivid.
Trust me, guys, you’ll love this.