Last night, in the tub with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, I finished Keith Maillard’s latest novel Twin Studies, a sprawling and multifaceted story about the traumas and triumphs of three sets of twins who are brought together through strange and enthralling circumstances.
At times difficult to read, due to its visceral and thorough depiction of grief, there were moments in this novel of depression–and the lengths one goes to to hide or ignore or find relief from depression–that were so sharply accurate I had to pause and allow the emotion to work its way through me before continuing. The characters, and how they love each other, made me yearn for my own family, and threw into relief my fears about losing the people whom I consider a part of who I am.
The story begins with a set of intriguing emails that introduces the novel’s leitmotif–an academic study of the biology and psychology of twins–and in a way ends with its antithesis, a more spiritual and artistic approach to defining family. In between is the stuff Maillard is known for: difficult conversations and tense situations that circle around each character’s struggle with identity, gender, loss and how to keep looking forward.