One Out of Two by Daniel Sada
Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graywolf. 2015. 88 pages.
One Out of Two, by Daniel Sada, describes the lives of the Gamal twins, Constitución and Gloria. They live together, work together in their sewing business, eat together, bathe together, and even sleep together. Their lives are ruled by their very togetherness until Oscar Segura enters the scene. Now there is a distraction, an interruption of their very togetherness, a variation to their otherwise normal, boring lives. And although there has never been a competitive element between the middle-aged sisters, one now emerges. Will Oscar rend asunder the Gamal establishment? Will one of the two surrender herself to him and leave her alter ego to fend for herself as a singleton? Herein lies the enchantment of this novelette that dissects the experiences and combined existence of the twins.
What is truly interesting about Sada’s rendering of the twin lives into a single entity is the way in which he unravels the union, then embroiders it back together. His insight into what makes a set of identical twins click is masterful. The separation and coming back together of the Gamals repeatedly throughout the story is engaging. His perception allows the reader, in all likelihood a singleton, to imagine what life might be if one had a mirror-image sibling of one’s own.
One Out of Two, as the title states, becomes “two rather than one” and then “one in two or two by now in one.” The juxtaposition between one or the other is what keeps the novel moving along. To separate or not, or stay together or not? That is the central theme of Sada’s novelette. The peripheral characters also lend interest and drive the development and climax of the plot regarding staying together or separating. Aunt Soledad drifts through the pages, constantly encouraging the girls to marry before it is too late. The love interest, Oscar Segura, creates discord, betrayal, anxiety, but finally reunion and reunification in the life of the Gamal sisters.
There is humor, pathos, and social commentary running through the lines and pages of Sada’s clever piece, and whether you have a twin, know twins, wish you were a twin, or any other sibling desire or experience, this novel will both entertain and disconcert you.
Janet Mary Livesey
University of Central Oklahoma