Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Girls

Title: The Girls
Author: Lori Lansens
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 464
Edition: Hardcover

"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. I’ve never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I’ve never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. 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." With such an evocative beginning, the novel sweeps you into the extraordinary world of Ruby and Rose Darlens, the oldest living craniopagus twins in the world. Ruby and Rose are twenty-nine-years old, joined at the head by a spot the size of a bread plate. Rose says "I have carried my sister like an infant, since I was a baby myself. Ruby's tiny thighs astride my hip, my arm supporting her posterior, her arm forever around my neck". Rose and Ruby share a common blood supply, over a hundred veins and a skull bone making them inseparable after birth. Abandoned by their teenage mother soon after birth, the twins (simply called 'The Girls') are raised lovingly by Aunt Lovey and her husband Uncle Stash in a small town Leaford. Though physically restrained, the Girls have distinct personalities and pursue different interests. Rose is bookish and an ardent baseball fan. Ruby, the pretty one, has a passion for Indian artifacts. Rose and Ruby have never seen each other, except in a mirror, yet their lives are intertwined beyond imagination. Rose observes that life is not fair especially for a girl who is joined at the head. Yet one would marvel at what she has to say about it. "There is some alienation, of course, in being so different, but it’s also been fascinating, and a unique opportunity, I think, to have observed our generation without fully participating in it". As you read through the autobiography of the girls encompassing the major events that shaped their lives, you begin to love and appreciate the emotional bond and dependency between the twins. Ruby quotes "Before she closed her eyes tonight, Rose said she regretted that she has not done something heroic in her life. Well, it’s not like she can suddenly climb a tree and save a cat, or go to medical school and begin some important cancer research. But Rose has been my sister. I think that’s heroic". The author brings in so much life to the characters in her book that one begins to wonder if this truly is a work of fiction. Ruby says "I can't imagine how even the most brilliant author could describe to a stranger what it's like to take your life's journey with your sister attached to your head." But, I think Lansens has done that exceptionally well.

My Rating: 4.5/5

7 comments:

Lotus Reads said...

The first time I read "The Girls" my copy was a loan from the library, but so impressed was I with the writing and the story that I went out and bought, not one, but two copies for myself (ofcourse, I meant to give one to my mother or someone equally special) but to my great shame I still have both copies sitting here on my bookshelf!

I'm so glad you liked the book...you have written a beautiful review!

MyUtopia said...

I can't tell you how many times I have picked this one up and put it back down. I will probably get it, but it is an on the fence one for me. Thanks for the review. You may have swayed me.

tanabata said...

I've heard so many good things about this book. I enjoyed reading her earlier Rush Home Road a couple of years ago. I'm going to have to pick this one up at some point.

Dewey said...

This is on my TBR pile, so I'm thrilled to hear it's so good!

Kimmie said...

I want this book. Something else for my shopping list.

Radha said...

Great review... seems like a touching sensitive book...

Happy Reader said...

@Lotus ~ Thanks! I hope your mom gets her copy soon ;)
@myutopia ~ Thanks for stopping by! That has happened to me too. So many times you get skeptical about a book only to find that you could never put it down ;) I hope you get to read it.
@tanabata ~ I read some good reviews about 'Rush Home Book'. Should read it sometime.
@dewey ~ Yes, it is.
@kimmie ~ Well, The book shopping list never ends.. Isn't it?
@radha ~ Thanks. It really was a great book.