In the introduction to One and the Same, journalist Abigail Pogrebin admits that writing a book about identical twins was something she was loath to do, equating it to “volunteering to do a public striptease. Because being a twin goes to the core of who I am and I was wary of examining that.”

Thankfully, Pogrebin avoids a literary bump’n’grind, instead merging interviews, research and memoir into a fascinating look at the lifelong dynamics of twins. Along the way, she freely admits that she and her twin sister Robin, a reporter for the New York Times, have drifted apart. That revelation gives the book an interesting slant: while interviewing other twins, doctors and her friends and family, Pogrebin gauges her own relationship with Robin. This is more than just journalism; it’s a search for personal clarity.

At the same time, Pogrebin is a good reporter on two fronts. First, she is able to get her twin sources to share personal, sometimes heartbreaking, information about a special relationship: “There’s a closeness that we have—even if it isn’t spoken—that my husband can’t duplicate,” one tells Pogrebin. Second, she examines myriad issues, both medical and social, without confusing the reader or deflating the personal tone. Pogrebin’s first-person narrative, coupled with her thirst for knowledge, makes for an immensely satisfying, enlightening read on what too many people dismiss as a genetic gimmick.

Pete Croatto is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.

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