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One and the Same: My Life as an Identical…

One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned… (2009)

by Abigail Pogrebin

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I'm almost done listening to this book, and I've found it difficult to take my headphones off when I need to. My only wish is that the author herself had narrated the audio book.

This book is beautifully, candidly written, and it examines all kinds of perspectives (even her own). I'm interested in the form - part memoir, part journalistic exploration - and would love to see how it's presented in page format. Between the case studies are conversations between Abigail and her twin Robin that are frankly fascinating.

( )
  usefuljack | May 17, 2013 |
I'm almost done listening to this book, and I've found it difficult to take my headphones off when I need to. My only wish is that the author herself had narrated the audio book.

This book is beautifully, candidly written, and it examines all kinds of perspectives (even her own). I'm interested in the form - part memoir, part journalistic exploration - and would love to see how it's presented in page format. Between the case studies are conversations between Abigail and her twin Robin that are frankly fascinating.

( )
  usefuljack | May 17, 2013 |
A truly interesting book that uses several cases of prominent twins, as well as the author's own experience as a twin, in addition to many scientific studies, to explore and deconstruct many of the myths and fantasies about twins and twinship.

These two quotes naturally brought to mind Her Fearful Symmetry:

p. 241 "What I find most moving is that our identical DNA makes her children and mine not just cousins but half siblings."

"Identical twin parents are equally related to their own children and to their twin's children." -Nancy Segal, Entwined Lives


"not to be loved but to be loved alone" (p. 95, quoted from Auden, "Sept. 1, 1939")

"What you could be walks right next to you all the time." (p. 98, quoted from Caroline Paul, Fighting Fire, 1998)

"Living together does not make people in a family alike." (p. 211, quoted from Lawrence Wright, Twins: And What They Tell Us About Who We Are, 1997)

The Nurture Assumption by Judith Rich Harris, 1998 (cited p. 212)

There was no getting close to our closeness. (221) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
"My life as an identical twin and what I've learned about everyone's struggle to be singular": Doesn't that sound like a memoir? Abigail Pogrebin tricked me! But I am okay with it, even though One And The Same is more sociology than memoir. I like sociology, too.

Oh, twins are so, so interesting. I love twins! Turns out, everyone else does too! (Except, sometimes, their twins) Pogrebin has written a fascinating book about the inner lives of twins; she interviewed loving pairs, hating pairs, pairs with genetic diseases (dude, SO SAD), and her own family - especially her more private twin, Robin. The relationship of Abigail to Robin - not quite the same as the relationship of Robin to Abigail - is the heart and foundation of the book, though it only occupies perhaps a fourth of the content. I was particularly interested by the examination of marriage among identical twins; the concept that the intimacy of being deeply known is something that twins have had all along, and may not really be seeking in marriage, was a new idea for me. Oddly disturbing too, but it made a lot of sense.

I had a strong impression (perhaps she even said so) that Pogrebin was hoping to resolve the somewhat strained relationship with her own twin through the writing of this book - and I was left, at the end, with the same rather sad feeling that came through at the beginning. But still, a lovely book which left me thinking hard about what seems a universal desire for someone who, if not a twin, is somehow like a twin. ( )
  2chances | May 25, 2011 |
What is it about twins that fascinate? I used to wish I was a twin myself, imagining a perfect playing partner who would have more in common with me than a mere sibling. In this book, Abigail Pogrebin interviews many twins, from football stars Tiki and Ronde Barber to acquaintances of her own, as well as psychologists and doctors specializing in twin studies, presenting a broad spectrum of the relationships between adult twins and theories regarding raising twins and helping them become fully realized individual adults. Pogrebin investigates a wide range of topics related to twins, from the idealized relationship to the struggle for individuality to medical studies of identical twins with different medical issues (which I found a fascinating and informative regarding the nature/nurture discussion). What fascinated me the most - the world of being a twin - was also the most frustrating in reading. As a twin herself, the author refers to "the Twin Thing" and makes much of the special relationship that twins have. I've known many twins, either together or separately, but having not been a twin myself or having a set of twins in my immediately family, I felt rather thrown into the world of twins in the early part of the book, and it was only in the latter chapters that I felt I had gained my footing somewhat.

Throughout it all, Abigail's relationship with her identical twin sister, Robin, informs her understanding of these interviews, but at the same time seems to come to a better understanding of her relationship because of her investigation. She discusses their relationship often, including snippets of her interview with Robin, with their brother David, and with family friends. I was impressed with her ability to describe the loss she feels of the close relationship she once had with Robin without falling into the blame game or becoming a whiny victim. She paints a very honest family portrait without making out anyone as "the bad guy." A fascinating blend of reporting and interviews, psychology and personal experience. ( )
1 vote bell7 | Dec 28, 2009 |
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I wouldn't be myself without her. -- Allen Shawn, Wish I Could Be There
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A year after my first book was published, my editors called me in to talk about ideas for my next project. (Introduction)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385521561, Hardcover)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:42 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The author of Stars of David describes her experiences as an identical twin while sharing the stories of twins who have struggled to balance intimacy and individuality, in a personal account that also offers insight into what experts are discovering about the role of DNA in influencing identity.… (more)

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