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The Silent Twins

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,153 ratings  ·  132 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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Karen Investigation Discovery channel did a segment on the twins as part of a show called "Evil Twins." Other than that, I am unaware of any documentaries. …moreInvestigation Discovery channel did a segment on the twins as part of a show called "Evil Twins." Other than that, I am unaware of any documentaries. Try youtube for the ID Channel segment. (less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,153 ratings  ·  132 reviews


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Diane Wallace
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sic read! creepy,sad but very interesting...a true story that was well written..(paperback!)
Diane in Australia
Interesting biography of identical twins, June and Jennifer Gibbons. They spoke only to each other, using a secret language. All their movements were synchronized. Things became stranger, and stranger, as they matured. Eventually, they ended up in a psychiatric facility in Berkshire, England, called Broadmoor Hospital.

Through interviews and the twins' diaries, novels, poems, and short stories, the author tries to understand who these young women were. Their prison diaries were filled with minusc
...more
John Pappas
Jul 27, 2011 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
Doris Jean
Nov 02, 2014 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
Julie
Aug 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa
May 05, 2012 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
Lucille
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the saddest, most heartbreaking accounts of two extraordinary, gifted identical twin females, June and Jennifer Gibbons, whose lives were compromised for one, and destroyed for another, by a shared and devastating mental illness.

This is a poem June wrote in 1983 while she was at Broadmoor Asylum, in the full grip of hopelessness and despair, and under the influence of psychotropic drugs prescribed to ensure her compliance:

I am immune from sanity or insanity
I am an empty present box; all
U
...more
Zana
May 23, 2012 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....
...more
Rebecca
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
'For you my dear sister,
Holding onto you forever,
Disco dancing with the rapists,
Your only crime is silence.'
...more
Stefanie
Jun 22, 2015 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. ...more
Guy Portman
Mar 24, 2014 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
Maya B
Dec 04, 2016 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
Sharon
Mar 07, 2013 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.... ...more
Jill
Facinating story, hated the writing.
Tara
Mar 31, 2009 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
Kole Camp
Jan 23, 2009 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
Tania Donald
Jul 09, 2011 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
Layla Densmore
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The silent twins by Marjorie Wallace about these that were silent and very distance with others because they were bullied for their race and where the were born. They started using their own language to only communicate with each other. Their own language sounded like chirping birds. The decided separating the girls by putting them in separate classes. They thought separating the twins would help them become more social and make friends but it didn't help it just made them more distanced. the wo ...more
Daphne
I have been wanting to read this book since I was about 7. I had a book about weird medical stuff, and one of the chapters was on twins. And there was a section about the Gibbons twins. I thought it was the most fascinating thing I had ever read. They were an enigma that people never figured out. While I don't believe in anything supernatural, their story seemed almost paranormal. Of course it was really just a case of serious mental illness, but I still wanted to know everything about them. Wel ...more
Milky Mixer
Apr 11, 2019 rated it liked it
These silent girls are so very interesting...

Their story is mysterious, frustrating, and sad.
Sarah Ainger
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This true story of the Gibbons twins is intriguing and disturbing, and in that much I enjoyed this book. I decided to read this after having listened to a podcast about the girls' story, and it did shed some more light on the twisted and withdrawn lives of these two sisters. However, I found the author's writing style to be slightly off-putting. In many places she came across as condescending, especially when talking about the twins' efforts to become published writers. Having read excerpts of t ...more
Karen
Nov 03, 2015 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
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 10, 2013 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
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
Yvonne
Apr 15, 2008 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.
Kate
Dec 19, 2012 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. ...more
Sam
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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. ...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.

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