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The Silent Twins

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  678 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
When identical twins June and Jennifer Gibbons were three they began to reject communication with anyone but each other, and so began a childhood bound together in a strange and secret world. As they grew up, love, hate, and genius united to push them to the extreme margins of society and, following a five-week spree of vandalism and arson, the silent twins were sentenced ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 1996 by Vintage (first published 1986)
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John Pappas
Jul 27, 2011 John Pappas rated it really liked it
How important is language? What happens when identical twins eschew interacting with the world-at-large, phatic communication and relationships with their peers and family in favor of communicating almost solely with each other? Arson, delinquency, violence and madness only begin to sketch this fascinating true story of the Gibbons sisters -- twins who created their own "secret" language and stopped communicating with the rest of the world -- and their strange inexorably intertwined lives. Almos ...more
Julie
Sep 11, 2010 Julie rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sharon
Mar 07, 2013 Sharon rated it liked it
This was one of the strangest books I've ever read. Particularly so as it was a true story. I must admit I do enjoy reading about the British, so that added to the enjoyment for me, though I don't know if "enjoyment" and this book really go together. It was amazing to me that this happened in the late 20th century. Eerie, yet I kept reading....
Rebecca
May 09, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it
'For you my dear sister,
Holding onto you forever,
Disco dancing with the rapists,
Your only crime is silence.'
Guy Portman
Mar 31, 2014 Guy Portman rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the extraordinary story of June and Jennifer Gibbons, identical twins born in the UK in 1963 to parents of Barbadian heritage. Their lives captivated the nation and were the inspiration behind the lyrics of Tsunami by the Manic Street Preachers.

Initially all appeared to be normal with the young twins, but they were soon to withdraw from the outside world, rejecting verbal communication and speaking to each other only through their own private cryptophasia or secret language. Viewed with
...more
Kole Camp
Jan 23, 2009 Kole Camp rated it it was amazing
I saw a short clip of the documentary of these girls and they are eerily fascinating. I ordered the book today along with Doug Blackmon's.

synopsis:
This is the astonishing tale of June and Jennifer Gibbons, identical twins whose silent, antisocial exterior hid a rich, vast, creative life. From early childhood through their twenties, they spoke only to each other in a secret langauge, building an elaborate fantasy life. Then, from their self-imposed isolation, they were catapulted into the hormona
...more
Lisa
Aug 15, 2012 Lisa rated it did not like it
I think this very interesting subject matter should have been handled by a more capable writer. This was a painful read because the story is so poorly constructed - random time shifts, shifts in perspective, poor pacing (did we really have to spend that much time with the dolls?) and a somewhat paternalistic (and sometimes self-congratulatory) tone throughout. I only finished it to find out what happened but I don't feel the book reveals much more than what was presented in the original article ...more
Zana
Jun 28, 2015 Zana rated it liked it
I'm so interested in this case...I wish there was an updated copy (there probably is but I got mine at a library sale...) The bad thing about this book is it was written by a journalist instead of a doctor so she never *why* they acted as they did, only the facts about what happened....
Karen
Nov 15, 2015 Karen rated it liked it
The Silent Twins is an eerie, true-crime tale of two teenage arsonists. But the more serious crimes they committed turned out to be against one another. Locked into a symbiotic relationship in the womb, June and Jennifer Gibbons spent their lives drawn into combat against one another, while at the same being completely dependent on the other. Only June could understand Jennifer. Only Jennifer could understand June.

As the only black family in a military community of whites, the Gibbons girls were
...more
Doris Jean
Nov 02, 2014 Doris Jean rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in power, and to all parents
This was a sad, disturbing, painful and upsetting book! About power. About injustice. You may not want to read it for entertainment, but if you are a parent, a psychologist, a doctor, a patient, a twin, a criminal, a politician or anyone in the justice system you can learn from it.

It is about identical twins who isolated themselves socially and emotionally and psychologically and took POWER for themselves. They used aggressive elective mutism to outsmart authority and it backfired on them. Some
...more
Tara
Apr 07, 2009 Tara rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
The author, Marjorie Wallace, is a journalist who found herself covering the trial of June and Jennifer Gibbons. June and Jennifer were identical twins in their teens, who appeared to be mute to the world around them, and now they were facing charges of theft and arson. The result of the trial was an indefinite sentence to the Broadmoor special hospital. Wallace, partly shocked by the sentence and curious to explore further into the lives of young women and discovered they were incredibly ambiti ...more
Bonnie Morse
This turned out to be one of those stories where the broad strokes were sufficient. Especially in light of the girls' current status 30 years later (one dead, the other grown and matured to a basically normal, non-destructive person) the details are just tedious.

The photos were the best part; I enjoyed seeing the pictures they took of each other in their own world.

Overall, though, I just went back and forth between pity and shame for the girls, and sheer amazement at how it was allowed to happe
...more
Epiphany
SPOILER ALERT

This book was absolutely fascinating. It was really interesting being able to see the thoughts of the twins in comparison to the perspective of everyone around them. I just wish Wallace would have done more digging to not only tell us what the twins were doing, but why. I was dying to know more about this "game" they were playing their whole lives, why they felt compelled to imitate each other, and why they felt that one could only live normally after the other died. Why would they
...more
L
Oct 11, 2013 L rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I agree with those reviewers who found the final chapter, the lack of diagnosis/author's best guess, disappointing. I, too, found several sections' text to be blocked oddly, without a reason for some passages to be indented, sometimes new paragraphs not returned, etc. Wallace never outright agrees/disagrees with 'aggressive mutism,' 'psychopath' or 'schizophrenia;' she speaks of "the inadequacy" of the medical definitions. I read the Wiki entry bec I truly wanted to know, decades after the 1980s ...more
Tania Donald
Jul 09, 2011 Tania Donald rated it it was amazing
The Silent Twins is a remarkable telling of a most unusual true story.
Twin sisters are locked together in a private world, speaking to no-one but each other. Together they create a world of fantasy, writing novels, taking photographs, imagining lives that their compulsive refusal to communicate makes impossible in the real world. Their attempts to make friendships lead them into destructive behaviour, crime and ultimately institutionalisation. The Silent Twins is an astonishing portrait of a si
...more
Velia
I saw Investigative Discovery's Evil Twins episode "Sisters in Silence" about these sisters and I was left with so many questions. There were statements made on the show that didn't make sense or weren't explained well. I was intrigued enough to search for a book. I was hoping for a memoir, but couldn't find one.

The back cover of this book has a classification of Psychology/Children's Studies, so it's not in the style of true crime or a biography. The writing and organization flow mostly as a ca
...more
Kate
Sep 09, 2013 Kate rated it really liked it
A fascinating read about the unique relationship very few experience: having an identical twin. The story of how their silent game spun their lives out of control is intense, with a hint of melancholy, as these girls long for connection, but isolate themselves from the world around them. I found out about this story from finding out the inspiration behind the lyrics of 'Tsunami' by Manic Street Preachers, and the words became all the more poignant after reading this book.
Yvonne
Apr 15, 2008 Yvonne rated it it was amazing
I found this book in a box given to me almost 2yrs ago. I love to read and decided what the heck.

This story is amazing. A pack between toddlers that last a life time. Their birthday was a few days ago. June is 45. Jennifer passed just hours after their release in 1993. They where 29. I looked for any information on the twins, and the last interview with June, I could find was in 2002.

The copy that I read was a paperback from 1986. Did the newly published 1996 version have a epilogue.
Sam
Jun 09, 2016 Sam rated it really liked it
This book really stuck with me, I can't stop thinking about June and Jennifer Gibbons and the bizarre inner world they created. I found myself incredibly disappointed upon coming to the end of the book and getting no real answers about them. I've been scouring the internet for more tidbits of information.
Jessica
Sep 10, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
This one was an interesting read. My range of emotion was extremely wide from sympathy to horror. It is still hard to wrap my mind around the fact that this is not fiction, but a true story. These twins truly show that sometimes truth is much much stranger than fiction,
Mary Kelley
Feb 05, 2010 Mary Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting incite into the lives of identical twins, Jennifer and June Gibbons. Their minds lead them into an exclusive lifestyle of sex, crime, mental hospitals and eventually prison.

A must read for anyone interested in the twists and turns of mental illness.
Melanie Pennington
Interesting and very sad psychological memoir of a very troubled set of twins. Sometimes Wallace gets bogged down in details, and it is unfortunate that it has not been updated since the death of Jennifer in 1993. Still an intriguing study of twins.
Stefanie
Jun 22, 2015 Stefanie rated it it was ok
No closure, no ending, no solutions or insight offered by the author. What happened to the girls? I wouldn't know, the book just ended. Book needs cutting down and a good polish.
Sara Molinaro
Jul 18, 2010 Sara Molinaro rated it it was ok
Such an interesting story... why did the author have to be patronizing and redundant?
Jill
Facinating story, hated the writing.
Maya B
Dec 04, 2016 Maya B rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book to be interesting, sad and a little creepy to read. This is the story of June and Jennifer gibbons, identical twins living in the UK. They did not communicate with anyone, only each other. They had a secret language and grew up to commit multiple crimes. They eventually would serve time in prison. This book was originally published in 1986 and it only focuses on the first 20yrs of their lives. It would have been nice if the author did a follow up book about these girls.

I did l
...more
Emma Noble
The further I got in this book, the more difficult it was to continue. The author doesn't seem to realize until the final pages that this story is a tragedy, and the Gibbons girls were young people in a great deal of pain.
How can you not touch on race when writing about two young POC growing up in very white Wales? The Gibbons twins have a fascinating story, but someone else should write it.
Laura
Mar 06, 2016 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Libro interessante e ben scritto. Forse l'autrice si è dilungata un po' su certi aspetti della vita delle gemelle, ma nel complesso la lettura scorre abbastanza bene.
La storia è terribile, a tratti disturbante. A volte mi sarebbe venuta voglia di prendere i due genitori e scrollarli fortemente perché è per me inconcepibile che non abbiano aiutato le gemelle a sviluppare un'identità propria e separata. Ma poi penso che erano anni diversi da quelli che ho vissuto io come genitore, la provenienza
...more
Roberta
Jan 24, 2016 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biografico
I came across the silent twins on the internet, while watching some documentary. They were presented as a couple of unlucky, shy girls who were never able to fit into a society that were still coming to term with the colour of their skin. Based on this biography, however, the Gibbons girls are a pair of badasses young woman who know perfectly well what they are doing.
I tend to blame the parents, who never seemed to be interested in the girls' fate and let them grow up like some kind of wild and
...more
Zandra
When I first heard about the Gibbons' I was immediately fascinated and wanted to learn more. This book proved to be a good starting point. Wallace used many excerpts from the girls' journals and discussed many of their conversations, but I still needed just a little bit more. I wanted to hear more insight from their parents and siblings. The way the book is written, it would leave you to believe that, in addition to the twins choosing to live in their own separate worlds, the parents and their s ...more
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Marjorie Shiona Wallace CBE, FRCPsych(Countess Skarbeck) (born 10 January 1945 in Nairobi, Kenya) is a British writer, broadcaster and investigative journalist and is the chief executive of SANE, a mental health charity in the UK established in 1986.
More about Marjorie Wallace...

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