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A Tale of Mismatched Twins

May/June 2018


Review: Accidental Brothers: The Story of Twins Exchanged at Birth and the Power of Nature and Nurture. By Nancy L. Segal and Yesika S. Montoya. St. Martin’s Press. 318 pages. 978-1250101907.

Tales of babies accidentally switched at birth are the stuff of new parents’ nightmares, but such cases are rare, as are those of identical twins raised apart from one another. Rarest of all is the recently uncovered stranger-than-fiction, true-life story of two sets of identical twin babies who were accidentally switched at birth and then raised apart. The sets of twins were 25 years old by the time the facts came to light.

How they and their unexpectedly entangled families took in this life-upending news is the subject of Accidental Brothers: The Story of Twins Exchanged at Birth and the Power of Nature and Nurture by psychologist Nancy Segal, founder and director of the Twin Studies Center at California State University, and her coauthor, social worker Yesika Montoya. The book is valuable for the sensitivity of its clinical insights and its in-depth assessment of twin research studies. Chapter by chapter, the authors balance the gripping details of the narrative with an exploration of the dueling impacts of genetics and environment in shaping who we are. But more than a tale of nature vs. nurture, it’s a story about family bonds, regardless of biology, that are tested to their limits and that nonetheless manage to endure.

The saga…

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Topic: Families

Tags: Bookmarks | families


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1 Comment

Saturday, May 12, 2018 3:15:52 PM | posted by Phyllis Palm
Thanks, as always for an insightful review. I read about these twins in a long article in The Sunday Magazine of the NYTimes a while ago. That article left a strong impression on me. I have always been interested in the nurture/nature question and I enjoy seeing science help discern which aspects of our personalities are inborn and which are learned . Also how children who are adopted learn to imitate or model themselves after their adoptive parents, or not. I have come to believe that so much of these young peoples’ positive life experiences stem from the care and honesty of their parents while they were growing up.