Cover image for Three black swans
Three black swans
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Delacorte Press, c2010.
Physical Description:
276 p. ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
HL 650 L Lexile
When sixteen-year-old Missy Vianello decides to try to convince her classmates that her cousin Claire is really her long-lost identical twin, she has no idea that the results of her prank will be so life-changing.


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Lives are in the balance in bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney's newest young adult thriller, Three Black Swans .
Missy and her cousin Claire are best friends who finish each other's sentences and practically read each other's minds. It's an eerie connection--so eerie that Missy has questions she wants to put to her parents. But she's afraid to ask. So when Missy hears an expert discussing newborn babies on the radio, it makes her wonder about her family.

Missy just can't let go of those nagging questions, and decides to use a school project about scientific hoaxes to try to uncover the answers. She enlists Claire to help. As part of the project the girls perform a dramatic scene that is captured on video at school. After the video is posted on YouTube, Missy and Claire realize that they've opened Pandora's box and much more than they ever imagined has come out. Not only are their identities called into question, but so is the future of everyone involved.

In this riveting, heartrending story by thriller author Caroline B. Cooney, the truth changes the lives of three families--as the bonds of blood must withstand the strains of long-hidden secrets that are at last revealed.

Author Notes

Caroline Cooney was born in 1947 in Geneva, New York. She studied music, art, and English at various colleges, but never graduated. She began writing while in college. Her young adult books include The Face on the Milk Carton, Whatever Happened to Janie?, The Voice on the Radio, What Janie Found, No Such Person, and the Cheerleaders Series. She received an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults for Driver's Ed and an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers for Twenty Pageants Later. Two of her titles, The Rear View Mirror and The Face on the Milk Cartoon, were made into television movies.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-10-When her teacher challenges her students to research and fabricate a scientific fake of some kind, Missy calls her cousin and best friend, Claire, for help to do the trick assignment. The plan: bring Claire, who looks startlingly like Missy, to appear on the school's live morning news broadcast as a newly found twin. As it turns out, the Connecticut sophomore perpetrates a hoax that turns out not to be a hoax at all but instead a revelation of the past that her family and two others must try to deal with and accept. Claire's sobs at the moment of revelation on the news show help answer Missy's very real question-yes, the two are identical twins, somehow. That's what everyone who sees the interview at the school and soon on YouTube believes, and with the speed of the Internet, texting, and email forwarding, a third girl on Long Island soon finds herself with a question of her own: How can I look just like these two girls I've never met? Playing on the interest of teens in identity drama, this story will draw willing readers through the suspenseful days that follow. Three sets of parents and three daughters take some time for readers to separate into recognizably different characters, but their experiences delve into the nature of love, family, parenting, and the bond of siblings.-Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Their families may be dissimilar, but 16-year-old first cousins Missy and Claire are all but inseparable and have been for most of their lives. When Missy's teacher encourages the class to think outside the box for a presentation on scientific hoaxes, Missy persuades a reluctant Claire to pretend that they are twins (the cousins bear a striking resemblance to each other) during a video broadcast of daily announcements. They are too convincing: the video spreads quickly through YouTube, and neither girl is prepared for the emotional fallout, as they begin to question their own identities, as does a third girl on Long Island-Genevieve-who sees the video online ("Who were these girls? Were they her? Was she actually in Connecticut with them? Was she one of them?"). Cooney's psychologically probing story darts among multiple characters, forming a complex web of mistrust, economic stress, and parental sins that will keep readers guessing. Although the circumstances of this plot feel especially melodramatic, it remains an exhilarating investigation of displacement, regret, and the bonds of sisterhood. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Missy always suspected that she and her relative Claire were closer than cousins. After a school hoax goes viral, family secrets about the two girls and a third, Genevieve, are slowly revealed. The climax is painstakingly slow in coming; and once the not-unexpected reveal is made, the conclusion feels rushed. But the engaging third-person narrative sticks close to the girls' emotions. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Cooney, who has a great interest in families pushed to the edge by anomalous situations, tells the story of best-friend first cousins and a third girl who realizes that she has a surprising connection to both of them. Missy, outgoing and un-academic, talks her quieter and more studious cousin Claire, whom she closely resembles physically, into pretending to be her twin for an unusual class assignmentto create a believable hoax. The tension gears up when the hoax video goes viral and catches the eye of a third girl, who bares an uncanny resemblance to the two cousins. Their meeting and the secret the three girls eventually unearth changes their notion of self and the shape of their families. Cooney devises copious explanations to give her tale credibility, but it's a hard story to swallow. However, the ending, full of good intentions yet unresolved and uncomfortable feelings, is thoughtfully realistic. (Fiction. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Sixteen-year-old Missy and her cousin Claire are best friends, with a striking physical resemblance and an even stronger emotional connection. So, when Missy's science teacher gives the class an assignment to create a believable scientific hoax backed by evidence, Missy arranges for a filmed interview on their school's morning TV broadcast in which she and Claire pretend they are actually identical twins, separated at birth and newly reunited. The joke's on them, however, because Missy and Claire really are identical twins. What's more, when the video hits YouTube, another truth surfaces: there is a third sister, identical triplet Genevieve, raised a mere 20 miles away. Far fetched? Perhaps, but for any girl with a best friend who seems like a sister, this will be a riveting read. Although less tightly constructed than the classic, and similarly identity-based, The Face on the Milk Carton (1990), the entwined stories of the three sisters and their families will attract and hold Cooney's many loyal fans.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2010 Booklist