The Girls – Lori Lansens
published 2005, 343 pages
From the book jacket –
Since their birth, twin sisters Rose and Ruby Darlen have been known simply as “The Girls”. Raised by Aunt Lovey, the nurse who took them in after their mother abandoned them, they have lived all their lives in the small town of Leaford, in an old farmhouse bordered by cornfields. This is the story of their shared life, two sisters who are ordinary in most respects but who have a relationship of profound and unmatched intimacy. For Rose and Ruby are conjoined twins, connected inseparably, facing the world side by side. The Girls is the affecting chronicle of their incomparable life journey, a heartrending story of love between sisters.
Now nearing thirty, Rose and Ruby are soon to be history’s oldest conjoined twins, and Rose decides it is time to write the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby. From their awkward first steps – Ruby’s arm curled around Rose’s neck, her foreshortened legs wrapped around Rose’s hips – this is an unmatched story of the most intense love imaginable. As Ruby watches Rose write her memoirs, she decides she wants to tell her part too; for though they are as close as two people can be, their lives and voices are wonderfully, powerfully distinct. Every experience of growing up comes rushing through in their telling – their first loves, their painful choices, losses, and triumphs – but every experience is doubled, sometimes joyfully and sometimes painfully.
The Girlscharts the depths of a miraculous friendship, unsettling and beautiful in its closeness. As the two stories parallel, diverge, and intertwine, building to an unforgettable conclusion, Lansens aims at the heart of human experience and the fundamental joy of connection.
My thoughts –
This was definitely an enjoyable book for me. When I first started reading it, I wasn’t sure what I was going to think about the book because something about Rose’s voice, her story, didn’t click with me. I think my initial problem was that she was telling SO many stories from their childhood when I really just wanted to get to know the two of them as they were in the present – how they lived their day to day lives as 29 year old conjoined twins. But once Ruby joined in, the story really started to pick up and go back and forth between their past and present, and I began to get involved with the characters and care about them. Once that happened, I fell in love with these two extraordinary women and their story. Lansens did such an amazing job writing their two voices so distinctly different from one another, and I actually came to enjoy one twin more than the other, which was kind of interesting. There weren’t a lot of secondary characters in this novel (besides their “parents”, Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash), but the ones that were there played an important part in the book and helped tie everything together.
I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long now, and I’m very glad that I finally got to it. I can’t say it’s the best book I’ve read or anything, but it is a very sweet and heartwarming story with wonderful characters as well. I would definitely recommend picking this one up.