Introduction: Poppy wants to go to college like everyone else, but her father has other ideas. Ever since her mirror twin sister, Lola, mysteriously vanished, Poppy’s father has been depressed and forces her to stick around. She hopes she can convince Lola to come home, and perhaps also procure her freedom, by sending her twin a series of eighteen letters, one for each year of their lives.

When not excavating childhood memories, Poppy is sneaking away with her girlfriend Juniper, the only person who understands her. But negotiating the complexities of queer love and childhood trauma are anything but simple. And as a twin? That’s a whole different story.


The following is an excerpt deleted from the published version of Dear Twin. It was deleted during the general editing process of the novel.

Deleted from Dear Twin

Poppy certainly didn’t want to go downstairs yet—mad scientist father on the loose and all—but she had grown tired of looking at the usual posts and re-shares. She turned on her Spotify app on her phone, plugged her phone into her computer, and entered Arcade Fire Suburbs into her search box. Juniper had quickly messaged her the other day quickly through Words with Friends: Pops. Listen to Suburbs. NOW. which was quickly followed with a post from her on her Facebook timeline of Juniper’s favorite song, one that made her think of Poppy, called Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Poppy had played the album already when she first woke up, missing Juniper and wanting to feel closer to her. And she’d played the music video of Sprawl II over and over and over again, mesmerized by the synchronized indie video dance, profoundly touched by the Poppy she saw in the smile on the singer’s face who hops out of the red brick house eerily similar to the house she was listening to this song in and puts her white headphones on and as she skips and sings and dances along, interspersed with images of normally dressed people dancing in masks on a football field, which then cuts back to the singer in the lobby of a building and then to her sitting on the bleachers and then back to the lobby where she tears off her beige ruffled blouse and pleated skirt which up close looks as though it were made of ribbed cardboard to a pink dress and then the pink dress and then the singer with ribbons in her hands: they heard me singing and they told me to stop quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock these days my life I feel it has no purpose but late at night the feelings swim to the surface cause on the surface the city lights shine they’re calling at me come and find your kind sometimes I wonder if the world’s so small that we can never get away from the sprawl

and Poppy felt the tears come, how close she was to hopelessness, to resigning herself to the realization that this was the life she was going to live, this makeshift prison in her father’s house holding on to her guilt like a medal and then: we rode our bikes to the nearest park sat under the swings we kissed in the dark we shield our eyes from the police lights we run away but we don’t know why and like a mirror these city lights shine

And then there it was. Juniper. And Nico. And Cendrillon. 

But. But.


And then, as suddenly as she thought it would crumble to dust, it was there, like a cleaning agent wiping away the tar. Hope. And a desire to live[1].

[1]  Sometimes I can’t believe it / I’m moving past the feeling (selected lyrics, The SuburbsArcade Fire)


Addie Tsai teaches courses in literature, creative writing, dance, and humanities at Houston Community College. She collaborated with Dominic Walsh Dance Theater on Victor Frankenstein and Camille Claudel, among others. Addie holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD in Dance from Texas Woman's University. The author of the queer Asian young adult novel Dear Twin, her writing has been published in Banango Street, The Offing, The Collagist, The Feminist Wire, Nat. Brut., and elsewhere. She is the Nonfiction Editor at The Grief Diaries, Assistant Fiction Editor at Anomaly, and Associate Editor at Raising Mothers.