Arminzerella's Reviews > The Girls

The Girls by Lori Lansens
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Dec 21, 08

bookshelves: 2009-abe-lincoln-nominee, realistic, adult-fiction, borrowed-from-the-library
Read in December, 2008

** spoiler alert ** The girls are Rose and Ruby, conjoined twin sisters (craniopagus – joined at the head), and this is their (fictional) autobiography. Rose is really the writer, and Ruby adds a few of her own chapters here and there. Theirs is a strange existence – strange to everyone else except for them. We learn how they were born to a teenage mother, who promptly disappeared after giving birth, how they were then taken in by Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash (Lovey worked as a nurse in the hospital when they were delivered), how they arrived in the aftermath of a destructive tornado, which ripped people’s lives and homes apart. The girls have different interests and really are two different people, despite having to be together all the time and to rely on one another for certain things. While Ruby is beautiful, she’s short, truncated, and can’t walk. Rose has to carry her on her hip. Rose is tall, but her face is distorted and grotesque because of how Ruby’s head pulls at hers. Rose’s chapters are very lyrical, while Ruby’s are more down to earth.

You find out some shocking things have happened to the sisters, as they tell their stories – they were involved with a young man, who got Rose pregnant while he was kissing Ruby. Rose gave her child up for adoption. And Rose has an aneurysm – it’s inoperable, and when it bursts, it will kill both her and Ruby. They have only months to live and only this short time to complete this book. Their lives are both startlingly unique and completely normal. They have the same feelings, fears, hopes, dreams as other people, but are additionally challenged by their condition.

This is not a book that I would have picked out on my own (if it hadn’t been one of the Abe Lincoln selections for high school, I’d probably never have read it). The hook for teen readers will probably focus on the fact that the girls are conjoined! At the head! And hopefully they’ll be caught up enough in the story to get to the gritty shocking stuff, which will hold their attention for sure. I was caught up in the language and the story from the first page.
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