The Girls, Lori Lansens

“Raise your right hand. Press the base of your palm to the lobe of your right ear. Cover your ear and fan out your fingers–that’s where my sister and I are affixed, our faces not quite side by side, our skulls fused together in a circular pattern running up the temple and curving around the frontal lobe. If you glance at us, you might think we’re two women embracing, leaning against the other tete-a-tete, the way sisters do.”

I’d forgotten what this book was about. I’d lifted it from my mother’s shelf at least two years ago and carried it with me to Edmonton. I’m not even sure what had attracted me to it. It sounded good enough in the blurb on the back cover, and maybe my mother had commented, “Oh, you’ll enjoy that.” Had she too forgotten what the book was about–or did she know what she was condemning me to?

My heart almost did not survive this book. My nose is still running, and I’m unsure if it’s because of my cold or the fact that I only just finished bawling. I’d warned everyone at work, as I sat at my desk reading the book at break time, to show no concern if my eyes appeared red–I was just reading. I managed to contain my sobs as whimpers so as not to alert anyone at work to the fragility of my soul.

The Girls is told from the perspective of craniopagus twins. One of the twins begins to write her autobiography, and the other twin decides that she will add her own voice to it as the true biography would be incomplete without the person who’s never had a moment separate from her sister. For the first 100 pages, Rose controls the narrative. But when Ruby’s first section begins, the reader discovers that Rose has not been entirely honest and thus the devastation of the reader begins.

Prepare yourself, reader, before you open this book. Now having finished it, I can honestly say that I will never again forget what this book was about. And if anyone could give me a hug right now, that’d be super awesome.

Books Read: 8

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