4 solid stars!
ISBN 13: 978-0316066341
Publish date: April 2007
Trade paperback; 368 pages; $13.99
Fiction; Family Drama
Recommended for: Anyone who enjoys an emotional tale of love, loss and life.
Lyrical, poetic prose opens this heartwarming and unique story of conjoined twins Rose and Ruby and the lives they led, both separately as two individuals with different likes and dislikes and together as sisters who must rely on each other solely for their very existence. Joined at the head, ‘The Girls’―as they are known as in their small Ontario town―are raised by loving adoptive parents Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, after their birth mother disappears shortly after giving birth. The conjoined twins are considered the pride of the town, not an oddity, and they rise above what most of us would think of as a handicap or disability and love each other unconditionally.
The Girls is a diary told in two voices―Rose’s and Ruby’s. Rose encourages her sister to contribute to what will become their life story and although she does most of the writing, both characters come to life as they observe the lives of everyone they meet, sharing their innermost thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams with the reader. I found myself so connected to Rose and Ruby that I didn’t want their story to end, and when it did, I was left with a bittersweet ache for more.
The first paragraph reads like pure, sweet poetry that is sure to haunt any reader; it is what first grabbed me and pulled at my heart. The Girls opens like this:
“I have never looked into my sister’s eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I’ve never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that…So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.”
Lori Lansens is an extraordinary Canadian author who paints a picture of rural Ontario farm life and two distinct lives with a magic wand of effortlessness, vividly colorful description and heartfelt compassion. At times you’ll forget you’re reading a novel because it reads with such clarity and believability. In fact, this novel is so full of realism, you may find yourself flipping to the author’s photograph at the back of the book to see if she is a conjoined twin. Instead, you’ll find her sitting alone at one end of a sofa, as if waiting for someone to join her.
The Girls: A Novel is a MUST READ for anyone who enjoys an emotional tale of love, loss and the challenges of life. Other books of comparable emotional impact: The Lovely Bones: A Novel and Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir and of course my novel Whale Song: A Novel , "a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart."