Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: "The Girls" by Lori Lansens

I've had this one sitting on my shelf for a while, but I'm usually so busy reading review books and blogging that I don't have a lot of time to get to my own books (something that I'll be trying to remedy in 2011!). On the weekend I was in the mood for something other than what I was reading at the time, and this one caught my eye. I can't believe that it took me so long to get to it, because I absolutely loved it!

The Girls is the fictional story of Ruby and Rose Darlen, the world's oldest craniopagus conjoined twins. Joined at the head, the girls have had to learn to adapt to their limited circumstances. Ruby and Rose have been through far more than the average person, aside from the fact that they're conjoined. Their mother, young when she got pregnant with them, gives birth to them and flees. A kindly nurse present at the delivery, unable to have her own biological children, falls in love with the infants quickly and she and her husband, who the girls know as Uncle Stash, adopt them. Aunt Lovey, Uncle Stash, Ruby and Rose live in the small town of Leaford, Ontario and although a curiosity at first, Ruby and Rose quickly become an accepted part of the community. The Girls is their story, written in the alternating voices of Ruby and Rose.

I fell in love with this story within the first couple of pages. What stood out for me was the fact that this book wasn't written from a "poor me" point of view. Although Ruby and Rose could certainly justify being bitter given their unique challenges, they are filled with optimism and a certain gratefulness for their uniqueness. Ruby mentions at one point that she is happy that she can be with her sister, her best friend, all of the time; that she can tell by a quickening heartbeat or a heated cheek how her sister is feeling. The girls seem to tackle life's challenges with an overall grace and quiet charm, but that's not to say that they don't have their moments of being frustrated or wishing that they could do something simple, like sleep by themselves.

I especially loved this quote about books, found on page 187 of the edition that I read:

I feel, holding the books, accommodating their weight and breathing their dust, an abiding love. I trust them, in a way that I can't trust my computer, though I couldn't do without it. Books are matter. My books matter.
I loved Ruby and Rose and the people that filled their lives. I loved their town (and could relate directly to it since I live in a small Ontario town as well). I loved learning their story, their stories being very different depending on which of the sisters was telling it. I spent a lot of time while reading picturing the girls and how hard it was for them to move as a single unit, to sleep as a single unit, and to even use the bathroom as a single unit. I found the whole thing fascinating and couldn't put it down. Overall, I simply loved The Girls.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of general or Canadian fiction
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010, RYOB Challenge 2010, The Canadian Book Challenge 4, Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Reading Challenge


  1. I liked your review so much and the cover!! I love nice covers..

  2. I'm really looking forward to reading this- and it's Canadian!- I just haven't managed to make it to yet either, but with such a positive review it seems time I make an extra effort.

  3. I need to get to this one (on my shelves). Excellent review.

  4. Enjoy the book when you get to it, Zoe and Diane! I loved it so much that I picked up a (used) copy of one of her other books, "The Wife's Tale" today.

    Mystica, Thanks for stopping by! I love pretty covers too and have a bad habit of judging books by those pretty covers :)

  5. Sounds very interesting. You should recommend this to people who feel sorry for themselves.

  6. Loved your review, Jonita! I've had this one in my bookcase for a while, acquired after I read another blogger's review (can't remember who!). Sounds like a very interesting story, and I love books about sisters!

  7. I've had this one on my shelf for a long time. I'm glad you loved it. I will have to get to it. Great post!

  8. Sounds like a terrific book! So glad you took the time to read a book you really wanted to! It's been awhile since I did that! I just finished Twilight since a friend mailed me her copy. I was very skeptical of it but did enjoy it. I don't really want to see the films about it though!

    Question - does Canada have a "bestseller's list" the way that the US does with books? Just curious!?

    Did you receive my cookbook yet? I hope you're doing well and enjoying the holidays!

  9. OOh. I want to read this now. I particularly love the words you quoted.