Monday, June 4, 2012

Book It – The Girls

This week’s featured book:

The Girls
Author: Lori Lansens


“We’ve been called many things: freaks, horrors, monsters, devils, witches, retards, wonders, marvels. To most, we’re a curiosity. In small-town Leaford, where we live and work, we’re just ‘The Girls.’”

Rose and Ruby Darlen are closer than most twin sisters. Indeed, they have spent their twenty-nine years on earth joined at the head. Given that they share a web of essential veins, there is no possibility that they can be separated in their lifetime.

Born in a small town in the midst of a tornado, the sisters are abandoned by their frightened teenaged mother and create a circus-like stir in the medical community. The attending nurse, however, sees their true beauty and decides to adopt them. Aunt Lovey is a warm-hearted, no-nonsense woman married to a gentle immigrant butcher, Uncle Stash. The middle-aged couple moves to a farm where the girls – “not hidden but unseen” – can live as normal a life as possible.

For identical twins, Rose and Ruby are remarkably different both on the inside and out. Ruby has a beautiful face whereas Rose’s features are, in her own words, “misshapen and frankly grotesque.” And whereas Rose’s body is fully formed, Ruby’s bottom half is dwarfish – with her tiny thighs resting on Rose’s hip, she must be carried around like a small child or doll. The differences in their tastes are no less distinct. A poet and avid reader, Rose is also huge sports fan. Ruby, on the other hand, would sooner watch television than crack open a book – that is, anything but sports. They are rarely ready for bed at the same time and whereas Rose loves spicy food, Ruby has a “disturbing fondness for eggs.”

On the eve of their thirtieth birthday, Rose sets out to write her autobiography. But because their lives have been so closely shared, Ruby insists on contributing the occasional chapter. And so, as Rose types away on her laptop, the technophobic Ruby scribbles longhand on a yellow legal pad. They’ve established one rule for their co-writing venture: neither is allowed to see what the other has written. Together, they tell the story of their lives as the world’s oldest surviving craniopagus twins – the literary Rose and straight-talking Ruby often seeing the same event in wildly different ways. Despite their extreme medical condition, the sisters express emotional truths that every reader will identify with: on losing a loved one, the hard lessons of compromise, the first stirrings of sexual desire, the pain of abandonment, and the transcendent power of love.

My Comments:

I ran across this book purely by chance – and good fortune! It was on sale at one of the local bookstores, which prompted me to pick it up and take a closer look. The story itself intrigued me, but it was the writing that captivated me as I flipped from page to page reading a paragraph here and there. So I took it home.

Well, let me tell you...

Once in awhile a book comes along that leaves a beautiful imprint in your heart, and this is such a book. This extraordinarily moving, heartbreaking, joyous and sometimes funny story will stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover.

You will adore the twins as they take turns narrating the story, and you will feel blessed for having been given a view into their world. The writing in this story is so delightful and emotion-provoking that you will sometimes forget that it’s not based on a true story. Give this book a try. I promise you will never forget it. Or stop wishing you could have a heart as big as theirs.


  1. I've heard about this one, might give it a go now on your recommendation.

    1. I think you'll really enjoy it. There's something very special about this author's writing. And you will love the two girls in this book.