UBC creative writing professor Keith Maillard’s Twin Studies is an engaging and heartbreaking tale centred on Erica, a psychologist suffering from the recent lost of her twin sister and Karen, a single mother struggling to raise her dysfunctional family.
Superficially , the novel’s protagonists have nothing in common, yet their worlds collide when Karen’s twins sign up to be apart of Erica’s research project. It is through their lives and the lives of their families that Maillard comments on topics ranging from the fluidity of gender and sexuality to Vancouver’s wildly expensive housing market.
Maillard also challenges readers’ concept of family by demonstrating the lasting connection that could develop between individuals who have shared a wealth of experiences. Maillard effectively replaces the nuclear family with a family unit more reflective of today’s age.
Readers of Twin Studies can also expect to be drawn in by the steady flow of Maillard’s prose; thereby forcing them to witness the chaos surrounding Devon and Jamie, whose complex twin bond teeters between the realm of familial love and unhealthy co-dependence.
Unlike other quintessential CanLit novels, which smother readers with the author’s patriotism by mentioning local landmarks on every page, Maillard tastefully employs setting within Twin Studies. His deft use of familiar boroughs such as Commercial Drive and West Van sparks a kinship between Vancouverites and the novel.
Overall, Maillard’s fourteenth novel is an enjoyable read and is recommended for lovers of CanLit, social commentaries and introspective tales that delve into the human psyche.