How did Anna die? That’s the question that her twin sister, Jess, can’t get out of her head in the novel “The Window” by Amelia Brunskill. Identical twins Anna and Jess were inseparable growing up, but lately, not so much. In fact, after Anna’s death, Jess starts to investigate what really happened, and what she uncovers is that Anna was deliberately increasing the distance between them.
Although they were twins, Anna and Jess were opposites in many ways. They looked alike, but Anna was outgoing, adventurous and athletic. Jess was quiet, studious and a homebody. Although it’s not stated, Jess appears to be on the spectrum – she doesn’t like to be touched, she has difficulty controlling her emotions, and she often doesn’t know how to talk to people, so she has no friends.
But after Anna’s death, things begin to change. In order for her to investigate, she has to uncover details about Anna’s life. She can only do that by talking to Anna’s friends, and in the process of connecting and finding a way to meet people that knew Anna, Jess finds herself actually blossoming and making friends of her own.
Brunskill writes beautifully. In one of Jess’ classes, there is a kid who draws incredibly violent drawings. Jess, the first person narrator, says:
“If I had to guess, he was on track to become either a video game designer or a serial killer. Every class, I debated whether I should sit close to him so I could watch him draw or stay as far away as possible.
Too close or too far. maybe there was no middle distance, no safety zone. Once you begin watching people, you can end up seeing stuff you don’t want to see, stuff you don’t know how to handle.”
And that’s a perfect way to foreshadow what happens later in the story. Events and clues pile up and Jess ends up in situations that she doesn’t know how to handle. But Brunskill brilliantly manages to make each twist and turn seem both unexpected and perfectly logical.
Once begun, the book is difficult to put down, and the reader will be eager to find out what really happened to Anna. And in the end it’s a beautiful love story — just not the kind of love story the reader expected.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Delacorte Press, for review purposes.