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In 29 years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister, Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation. Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby's eyes. Joined at the head, "The Girls" (as they are known in their small Ontario town) are the world's oldest surviving craniopagus twins. In her astonishing second novel, Lori Lansens (author of Rush Home Road) ventures into the strange world of physical abnormality that Barbara Gowdy so chillingly explored in We So Seldom Look on Love. While some writers might be tempted to play up the grotesque aspects of life as a conjoined twin, Lansens treats her so-called freaks with sensitivity and respect. The result is an extraordinarily moving narrative about human connectedness that questions the very meaning of "normal."
The Girls is a fictional autobiography of the Darlen twins, mostly told by Rose but with occasional chapters by Ruby. The stronger and more frustrated of the two, Rose longs to become a published writer but tends to conceal or distort disturbing incidents from their shared past. Ruby, by contrast, tells it like it is, but is much more accepting of their intertwined fate. (Ruby is also the prettier twin, and one of the most poignant and shocking scenes in the novel is Rose's account of her--or rather their--first sexual experience.) As Rose and Ruby describe their relatively sheltered childhood, rocky adolescence, and tentative experiments with love, the interplay between these two distinct voices heightens the dramatic tension of what's to come. The saddest part is saying good-bye--to "The Girls" and to this compassionately written novel. --Lisa Alward
Starred Review. Some books translate so smoothly to audio that they seem meant to be read aloud, and this fictional autobiography of 29-year-old conjoined twins Rose and Ruby Darlen is one such tale. Though joined at the head, "The Girls" have separate bodies and distinct personalities, which come to life through Zimbalist's and Davidovich's narration. Zimbalist takes on the husky voice of Rose, a writer who's intent on penning her life story—in other words, this audio. She has coerced Ruby, voiced to bubbly perfection by Davidovich, into contributing her own chapters, and the combination of their interwoven first-person narratives makes for an illuminating portrait of two extraordinary women, their unshakeable bond and the people who have guided them along the way. Zimbalist does a fine job voicing not only Rose but the girls' uncle Stash, with his heavy Slovakian accent, their levelheaded aunt Lovey and their crotchety Italian neighbor, among others. Further complementing the narration is occasional music, adjusted to match the mood and tempo of the story. This is a masterful production of an unusual and inspiring story.
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This is an exquisite book, so compellingly sad, full of heart, and moving. By far the best of the author's work. Highly recommended!Published 2 months ago by Emily Saunders
Read this book as part of a book club. I didn't keep my attention. Finished it solely out of duty.Published 8 months ago by Kris
The book was used but in great condition. I liked the storyPublished 8 months ago by Janette Bernhart
I was enthralled with this story right from the start. The author must have done a lot of research as it all seems so real and gives a good insight into the lives of con joined... Read morePublished 19 months ago by C. A. Williams
Lori Larsens' The Girls is a novel about twin sisters - conjoined twins - who are born and raised by their adoptive "Aunt" and "Uncle" in southwestern Ontario. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2012 by Kadi Kaljuste
I have just finished one of the tattiest paper backs that I have ever read - and enjoyed every page of it, even the loose ones which I have had to chase after as they have... Read morePublished on Sept. 27 2012 by the brolly dolly
I read The Girls by Lori Lansens a couple of months ago but, now that I can comment on it, I feel compelled to contribute to its publicity! Read morePublished on May 30 2011 by Reader Writer Runner
I loved this book! So much that I had to pass it along to friends. The girls will engross you with their life story, though fiction, it feels real. Read morePublished on June 3 2010 by Carrie A. Harfman
I was given a copy of this book; otherwise I probably would never have read it. But I'm SO glad I did! It was like reading an actual autobiography rather than a novel. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2010 by I Love a Good Mystery