The Soft Room by Karen Heuler

This is the story of twin sisters, Meg and Abby. The relationship between the two feels authentic–the struggle between siblings, the definition of themselves in one another.

Abby is the eldest twin, a natural leader who’s often upstaged by her sister. Meg steals the attention because of a lack–she doesn’t feel pain.

The story gets going in suburbia, with Abby and Meg running around the neighborhood and nearby undeveloped lot with friends. Abby’s more cautious than most, having to keep an eye out for Meg’s wounds–after all, without feeling them, she could be grievously injured and not notice it. Meg’s bold–without pain, she can steamroll ahead directly and take risks others blanch at.

The characters are more than the keeper/immune to pain descriptor–I really enjoyed the story from both points of view. The divergence in personality and its roots make sense.

The break, where the book enters Part II, feels like a huge break, even though it only skips ahead a year or two.

In the end, I loved the characters and the development. The titled “soft room” only emerges in the final dozen or so pages, but really underscores the transformation that Meg undergoes.