Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book review: The Girls by Lori Lansens

This is the second book I read over my long Christmas weekend with Mr. Mouse's family, the first being the soccer/Mafia one. Mr. Mouse was very cute, noticing me turning the pages much more quickly: "Like this one better?" he asked. "Oh, yes," I said, "I'm only half a chapter in and it's already a better book." To be fair, this is the author's second novel, so she's had a chance to feel comfortable in her voice; on the other hand, I'm guessing she figured out how to develop lush characterizations, an interesting and suspenseful plot and convincing dialogue in her first book too.

The Girls is a lovely and well-written story about Rose and Ruby Darlen, Canadian conjoined cragiopagus twins, age 29. Framed as the twins' written memoirs as their inevitable mortality looms closer, the novel takes us - in both present time and flashbacks - through the girls' birth, childhood and adult lives together. Each of Rose and Ruby has her own voice and her own perspective on their unavoidably shared experience and the author does a nice job allowing each sister to provide commentary on the other's narrative. At no time does the reader feel revulsion or pity for the Girls: as Lansens says in her afterword, they're normal girls ... who happen to be attached at the head.

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