Melody's Reviews > One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal

One of Us by Alice Domurat Dreger
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's review
Nov 28, 2007

really liked it
Read in March, 2009

The whole time I was reading this book I kept thinking how the author’s presentation of how the medical world deals with conjoined twins (as a disease that must be cured) should also cover the way society deals with most everything that is “different”: There is a name for every “condition” and a pill or a surgical procedure to move everything closer to a “perfect” homogenized state of normalcy. I couldn’t believe she was going to spend the whole book all concerned because surgeons wouldn’t entertain the thought of leaving two heads on a baby but was not going to at least comment on the similarities of doctors over-prescribing and pharmaceutical companies over-producing and marketers over-convincing Americans that we all need anti-depressants, attention deficient “correction” medications and botox. But she came through and her whole last chapter deals with just those issues.

I’ve begun this review backwards I guess. The author explores the belief that conjoined twins should not be separated but rather society should be changed so that we are more open to people who are different – rather than demanding that everyone fit into neat categories and conform to some Disneyland fantasy of perfection. She sites her reason as being that there are many instances of conjoined twins who have lived happy, fulfilled lives and that only one set of twins ever requested to be separated. She also hits you hard with the fact that sometimes the separation process is the only “accepted” time it is “OK to kill one child to save another” (in the case of “sacrifice surgeries” all the “tissue” of the twin to be “sacrificed” is “functioning until surgeons cut off one twin from life-sustaining organs”). Also one of the main problems people have had with unseparated conjoined twins living a “normal” life is the concern with and disapproval of their sex life.

A very fascinating book.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

This looks fascinating! Please let us know how it is once you get to it.

message 2: by Melody (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:01PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melody It does look interesting doesn't it? I read "The Girls", a novel by Lori Lansens that is written like autobiographies by conjoined twins and enjoyed it very much. I saw this book reviewed in Ginnie and Jessica's lists and decided I needed to read it.

message 3: by Tatiana (new)

Tatiana What a great book for me right now! Thanks for this review. I'm totally wishlisting it on Amazon.

Melody Glad you liked the review and hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.

message 5: by Vicki (new)

Vicki The neurodiversity arguments advanced in the autism community sound similar in many ways. Maybe these kinds of issues will constitute the next civil rights frontier.

message 6: by Vicki (new)

Vicki That really is true--it's important that the rush to embrace neurological or biological diversity doesn't discourage people from getting interventions they really do need or want--or what they truly believe, upon consideration of all available options--is right for their kids. But too, it's important that we be very conscious as individuals and as a society of what we think of as normal and correct, and make sure we're not just trying to smash square pegs into round holes for our own comfort or convenience.

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