Three Black Swans

277p. 978-0-38573-867-5.
Gr 7—10—When her teacher challenges her students to research and fabricate a scientific fake of some kind, Missy calls her cousin and best friend, Claire, for help to do the trick assignment. The plan: bring Claire, who looks startlingly like Missy, to appear on the school's live morning news broadcast as a newly found twin. As it turns out, the Connecticut sophomore perpetrates a hoax that turns out not to be a hoax at all but instead a revelation of the past that her family and two others must try to deal with and accept. Claire's sobs at the moment of revelation on the news show help answer Missy's very real question—yes, the two are identical twins, somehow. That's what everyone who sees the interview at the school and soon on YouTube believes, and with the speed of the Internet, texting, and email forwarding, a third girl on Long Island soon finds herself with a question of her own: How can I look just like these two girls I've never met? Playing on the interest of teens in identity drama, this story will draw willing readers through the suspenseful days that follow. Three sets of parents and three daughters take some time for readers to separate into recognizably different characters, but their experiences delve into the nature of love, family, parenting, and the bond of siblings.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
Missy always suspected that she and her relative Claire were closer than cousins. After a school hoax goes viral, family secrets about the two girls and a third, Genevieve, are slowly revealed. The climax is painstakingly slow in coming; and once the not-unexpected reveal is made, the conclusion feels rushed. But the engaging third-person narrative sticks close to the girls' emotions.
Three Black Swans is a paean to sisterhood and family—whether biological or not. Chapters end with cliff-hangers that defy readers to put the novel down. Teen readers will find that Caroline B. Cooney is a writer who understands the important role technology plays in their lives. Her characters use Facebook, YouTube, and data-ready cell phones to piece together clues and reach out to one another. As is the case in many of Cooney’s books, the most resourceful, resilient, and generous characters are minors. Their inspiring qualities make their travails that much more heartrending and moving.

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