book review :: the girls

The Girls: A Novel
Lori Lansens

I first saw this at Borders in their Original Voices section, but decided not to get it. Then I found it at the library and checked it out. I only got to read a couple of chapters before I had to return it as we weren't sure when we would be back in the area.

I was pretty disappointed as the book really had sucked me in. It is a fictional account of conjoined twin sisters. They are joined at the head, and share a vital artery that prevents separation.

They are raised by the nurse that helps bring them into the world after their birth mother abandons them. The sisters, Rose and Ruby, call her Aunt Lovey. They spend most of their lives in the country. They attend school, but for the most part are very isolated and sometimes lonely despite the connection they share.

The book is an autobiography (again though remember that this is fiction and not based on people who are real) which Rose decides to write and which Ruby feels she has to help with as how could Rose write her autobiography without Ruby's side of things – and this is where I think the book becomes interesting.

Because of how the girls are joined, neither is able to see the other one's face without looking into a mirror. Ruby while beautiful is a bit deformed in her body. Her legs are shorter than Rose's and she has club feet. Rose, on the other hand, has a more normal looking body, but her face is not what would be described as pretty or even handsome. Rose is dominant in a way due to the fact that she is forced to literally carry her sister whenever they want to go anywhere. And though the girls are similar, both have very distinct interests and talents. So it is interesting to see how two people can experience the same life so differently from the other.

Also, if you ever had a sibling that you felt 'held you back', whether that be because you had to watch them or because the teachers had certain expections of you as a result of their behavoir, this book will make you think. Even if you don't have siblings it will make you think about what it means to be an individual and about how connected all of us are, for better or worse.

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