Thursday, February 24, 2011

THREE BLACK SWANS by Caroline B. Cooney

"Black swans" are described by trader and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb as "events that are hugely important, rare and unpredictable, and explicable only after the fact."

Caroline B. Cooney's latest offering tells of three girls whose separate lives become intertwined in an unimaginable story.  Cooney draws readers into their tale quickly but teases them along until the very end where true to the comparison of the idea of "black swans", the truth is finally explained.

Missy and Claire are cousins.  Living a short distance apart has never been a problem.  Since their mothers are sisters, the two families have always found time to be together.  In fact, every Friday has been sleepover night for the girls.

Now that they are in high school, their mothers have for some reason begun encouraging the girls to spend more time apart.  Claire will graduate a year earlier so perhaps the adults fear that when Claire heads off to college Missy will not be able to adjust.  Missy has always felt an unusually tight bond with Claire and was thrilled when strangers would mistake them for twins.

When Missy's science teacher creates a unique assignment requiring the students to perpetrate hoaxes, she knows exactly what she wants to do.  She contacts Claire and suggests that they pretend they are long-lost twins reunited.  Although reluctant, Claire agrees and the two cousins appear live on Missy's high school's video-taped morning announcements.  The creator of the video decides to post the emotional reunion on You Tube which triggers the unraveling of the world for the two girls and someone else they have never even met.

I found the story fascinating, as I do most of Caroline B. Cooney's work, however, without revealing any spoilers, I would like to say some of the characters and their actions infuriated me.  Unfortunately, there probably are people in the world as self-centered and selfish as these characters, but all the same, I found them disgusting.  If you count the success of a novel by how long the story stays with the reader, then Cooney's THREE BLACK SWANS is a success because it will stay in my mind for a long time to come.

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