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Identical Strangers

A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited
Narrated by: Alma Cuervo, Effie Johnson
Length: 9 hrs and 36 mins
4 out of 5 stars (139 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This is the astonishing true story of Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, who shared a personal history for more than three decades - and didn't know it. In her mid-30s, Schein finally decided to call an adoption agency to learn about her biological mother. Not expecting much, she instead got the surprise of her life. Her identical twin sister, Bernstein, lived just minutes away.
©2007 Paula Bernstein; 2007 Elyse Schein (P)2007 Recorded Books LLC

Critic Reviews

"A transfixing memoir." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joanne
  • Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
  • 07-15-08

What if you are a twin and don't know it?

There were many things about this book I enjoyed. Narration was excellent - having two separate voices made it easier to distiguish who was who. I found this book inforatively factual when it came to the details of this adoption case. Being a fellow adoptee I really enjoyed the twins personal insight into their reunion thoughts and feelings.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very Enjoyable

What an interesting listen! I really enjoyed the subject, content and the way in which Elyse and Paula chose to craft their story. Ok, that's doesn't tell you much. How about this? These two women in their mid thirties find out that they have a sister, but not just a sister...in fact, one with whom they shared a womb for 9 months!After they locate and meet one another, they "join forces" to track down the circumstances around their separation. The story is told from each twin's perspective in alternating segments. You will learn about them, other separated twins (& triplets), the adoption process, and other very interesting biological and psychological facts. Believe me, this could have been a very boring subject...but it is NOT. I'm still thinking about them and have checked out their web site to see how they are because I feel as though I know them. The narrators are excellent..I thought perhaps the girls had read their own parts, but they had not. The narrators are very convincing though and it doesn't take long to know who is who by the voicing. If you're interested in twins and want a good story, listen to this.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mollie
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • 04-14-11

Interesting story; Irritating narrator

I thought the story was fascinating and well-written and would have given it more than 3 stars, but I found it so difficult to tolerate the narrator for Elyse that I almost didn't finish the book. She had a way of emphasizing words that made her sound on the verge of hysteria much of the time, and her frequent sniffing as she read was distracting and irritating. I will definitely avoid buying another book read by this narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barry
  • Arlington, TX, USA
  • 04-01-08

Heartwarming story

I LOVE this book!
This book is completely fascinating, with many surprises that will make you gasp out loud.
I loved how the writing intertwined facts, statistics, stories of other twins, along with the story of how Paula & Elyse grew up & found each other "again".
Like another reviewer, I also felt like I got to know Paula and Elyse and Googled them and so I finished the book to get any updates in their lives.
Please give this book a listen, it is a truly wonderful story.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Wake up one day to find you have a twin?!

That's what these sisters did--they unravel the bizarre story of their separation and reunion in this compelling story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • LillyO
  • Idaho Falls, ID USA
  • 03-09-09

One story, two perspectives

I loved how this book flipped between the twins perspectives! Seeing how they each dealt with their "discovery" didn't merely discuss "nature v. nurture," it played it out, in action. At times it was so riveting it was painful for me, as I felt horrible for the judgement and scrutiny they gave each other (being both siblings and identicals). In the end, however, they saw their way through that...to the ultimate love, self-love. Wonderfully told, riveting, and thought-provoking.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An astonishing book

An astonishing book with a compelling story that rewired my thinking about nature vs. nurture.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very interesting personal account

My book group had chosen to read this book a number of years ago. I had started it but didn’t find the time to finish it. A few months ago, I saw the feature documentary THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS in the theaters with a friend, coincidentally who shared the same book group. In the movie, I took note of a video clip of Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein being interviewed. As my friend and I drove home, we discussed this impactful movie, and I Googled the authors of this book, confirming for myself that this book was written by them! We agreed we should suggest this read once again as we planned for our current year of reads. It was voted in among our year’s selections! A second chance for me to finish! I loved learning these twins’ perspectives and reactions to one another! And I loved their references to the triplets who are the subjects of the movie I had seen. The pairing of the movie and this book helped me understand the experiences of many twins and triplets separated after birth and raised separately due to a study originating with the same adoption agency in NYC. Twin stories...similarities and differences, and related theories, intrigue me. I can recommend this read to those who share this intrigue.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So good, and so awful that it is actually true!

Really good presentation of a "study" that should never have been done, the effects on the subjects, and the families who were never given the choices they should have had. Eye opening!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

I never knew my dad but I searched and when I was determined to really find him he was dead so I identify with these women who needed to develop a relationship!!