Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eva Hoffman's The Secret


The Secret by Eva Hoffman
In the near future a young girl, Iris Surrey, has always been plagued by a feeling that she is not normal.  Battling the Wierdness, as she calls it, has left Iris bitter, confused, and alienated.  These feelings are only exacerbated when she learns the painful truth: that she is a clone.  The truth sets you free, but in Iris’ case it compounds her misery.  She runs away to New York where she tries to establish a separate identity from her mother who created her by cloning her cells in a laboratory.  Iris frequently refers to herself as a “monster” and “facsimile,” even stating that whe is not sure she has a soul:  “Did my mother steal my soul, my very self?”

Breaking into her Aunt’s electronic mailbox, Iris tracks down her grandparents, only to face their rejection.  She tries to reunite with her stepfather who treats her as a sexual object – as the living embodiment of his ex-lover, Iris’ mother.  Iris feels condemned to walk the earth as a “mimetic being” until she falls in love with Robert who accepts her condition.  Even so, in the end, Iris is still not convinced she has a soul.
Written by a Holocaust historian, this book will resonate with anyone who has ever felt betrayed or marginalized.  It raises questions about self-determination, identity, and medical ethics.