Friday, January 1, 2010

The Girls by Lori Lansens

The Girls novel is told from two viewpoints: that of Rose and that of Ruby Darlen, 29-year-old conjoined twins. Rose and Ruby are about to go down in history as the oldest surviving twins to be joined at the head. A recent medical diagnosis has spurred Rose to write her autobiography, and she encourages Ruby to do the same. Between the two sections, the story of their lives is revealed, beginning with their birth to an unwed teen mother and their adoption by Lovey Darlen, the nurse who was with their mother when she was in labor, and her strong, silent husband, Stash. The girls grow up on the Darlens' farm in rural Ontario, where Lovey refuses to accept the word of skeptical doctors who doubt the girls will ever be able to walk on their own. There is a great deal of subtlety in Lansens' narrative, and how the twins reveal the details of their lives--often one will refer to something she is sure the other has already mentioned in her section. But her biggest achievement in the novel is bringing to life these two truly extraordinary characters to such a degree that I frequently forget that I am reading fiction.  This is an entertaining read and the author has done an amazing job in making these girls come to life.

Rating: 3.5 Strong OK