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Three Black Swans: 12/05/12
Three Black Swans by Caroline B Reiner takes its title from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Basically, a black swan is a highly improbably event that actually has happened. Taleb describes these events as: unpredictable, with a massive impact, and something we want to explain to make them seem less random or unpredictable.
In the case of Three Black Swans, the title is a spoiler unto itself — three identical sisters separated at birth with shenanigans involved in their adoptions. The revelation of this long kept secret starts when Missy, the runt of the litter, uses her "cousin" Claire as part of a science class project (create a hoax and report on it).
Now here is where I step aside from the book to explain why I wasn't as impressed with the story as I might have been. The problem is this: it's a cut and dry twins separated at birth (except its triplets) story and it follows all the twists and turns this sort of story usually takes. Here, too, since Missy and her siblings are underage, Cooney has to pull some strings to make their coming together at all plausible. She begins, of course, by stacking the deck by making two of the sisters "cousins."
I hadn't really thought about how formulaic this type of story is until I listened to Carl Reiner's NNNNN which lampoons the twins separated at birth story to epic proportions. Ultimately the problem with Three Black Swans is that it takes this trite plot line completely seriously, whereas Reiner takes it to the most outlandish of extremes — well beyond even the most melodramatic telenovela, and then adds in a healthy serving of blasphemy.