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The Silent Twins Mass Market Paperback – October 12, 1987

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This true story focuses on the young adult years of identical twin girls. June and Jennifer isolate themselves from family and society, sinking into a world of interdependency, fantasy, and obsessive game-playing, until an arson spree lands them in a hospital for the criminally insane. The fascination of this tale lies in the discrepancy between the twins' silent, emotionless facade and the rich creativity and passion that spills out endlessly in their writing. The author has reconstructed their story from their extensive diaries, in which they compulsively explore their lives and the condition of the world as they perceive it. Again and again, they express both their love and hatred for each other and their desire yet inability to become separate individuals. This book is written by a sympathetic journalist for a general audience.Amy D. Goffman, Registered Physical Therapist, Charlottesville, Va.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Strange, riveting... Thanks to Marjorie Wallace, thanks to the twins' incorrigible brilliance, we now have some idea of what it is like to stand in front of a dark mirror" London Review of Books "A remarkable (and finally tragic) story which, in its depth, penetration and detail, no less than its extraordinary subject matter, must be seen as outstanding, a testimony to something extraordinary in the author herself" New York Times Review of Books "A compelling and tragic story" Mail on Sunday "Breathtaking" Independent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345348028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345348029
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,216,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

It is based on a true story and it is very interesting.
This book is a biographical account of June and Jennifer Giboons, West Indian twins raised in Great Britain.
Bonnie Brody
I recently picked up the book again and this time I finished it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Nonesuch Explorers on January 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author means well, but I think the girls might have been better served simply by reprinting relevant entries from the voluminous diaries, with a minimum of commentary. As other reviewers have pointed out, Wallace seems quite confused by the girls and her narrative lacks important details as a result.
June and Jennifer stayed in Broadmoor hospital until 1993, when they were to be remanded to a more appropriate facility. Originally, they had had an understanding that if one of them should die, the other must begin to speak normally and tell their story to the world. By the time of their release, they had come to believe that they not only needed to be physically separate, but that in order for one to live a normal life, the other would have to die.
In an Observer (Guardian Unlimited) article following the deaths of the Bijani sisters, July 13, 2003, Wallace reports having tea with the Gibbons girls just before their release, at which time Jennifer informed her that she had decided to die, leaving the way open for June. Ten days later, they left Broadmoor, and Jennifer promptly leaned on June's shoulder and went unconscious. She died at 6:30 that evening. The autopsy showed a virulent inflammation of the heart. The doctors were unable to identify the source. To this day, Jennifer's death is a mystery, and June lives in their old hometown, near their parents. She revealed their complete story in an issue of Harper's magazine in late '93, with a followup called "We Two Made One", reprinted in the New Yorker for 12-4-2000. The song "Tsunami" by the Manic Street Preachers is based on their story.
We should love to see "Pepsi-Cola Addict", "Discomania", "Taxi-Driver's Son" and especially "The Pugilist" published in America.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By JB on June 26, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The story of the twinnies (as they are called in the book) is interesting on its own, which is the main saving grace of this tiresome work. The author doesn't hesitate to admit that the twins fascinated and confused her, and that fact shines through in her lack of style. The book jacket describes the twins' lives as being mired in arson, drugs, and sex, yet the only events that are dealt with great detail are the acts of arson. The reader is given no more detail about the twins once they reach the psychiatric hospital, where both girls believe they'll have the chance to communicate with others and maybe even begin a normal life. There's more hope in the twins' voices than there are from the author. The passages from their diaries are an alarming testament to their mental disease, but they are so lucid at times that the reader almost questions if the twins are the ones with the problems. Both girls realized they were their own worst enemies, but they were also one another's best friend. Their writings and diaries are highly accomplished, richly described pieces of writing. What a shame the author couldn't achieve the same.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By peaceandluv on August 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
I became fascinated with this story because of the "Evil Twins" series on Investigation channel. As far as the book and the story it puzzles me how people would conclude that they had a disorder. The twins separated themselves from the world around them because it was easier to live that way in the situation they were in, being targeted as nothing because of the color of their skin. Not being able to talk to their own parents about their struggle is astonishing. This story is both sad but an eye opener that hatred and racism can really do more harm to a child more than we know it and as being a identical twin my sister and I were glued together. We trusted each other, protected and talked to each other and we also tuned out the world because twins bond that closely. Thank God we were not the victim of such hatred for color. I wish that they would have shared their distaste for the reality of the world they dealt with with their parents and psychologist. ON the show on the investigation channel you can see that the psychologists that worked with them really loved them, one of them actually cried. Sad story because it is tacky to have young girls in a psycho home for so many years. Overall I love this story and twins are powerful souls and beautiful but clearly misunderstood bc the bond will always be a mystery.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Savannah on May 11, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I recently read this book, having started it several years ago and found that it so distrubed me that the lives these young women seemed to be so expendable, I could not finish reading their story. I recently picked up the book again and this time I finished it. I still feel that the world let June and Jennifer Gibbons down. I especially feel that their parents failed them. But placing blame is not helpful, is it?
I found Marjorie Wallace's research admirable, but not nearly as in-depth as it could have been, especially in delving into the family dynamics outside of the twins themselves. It is hard for me to believe, as a mother of four sons, two of whom are fraternal twins, that these girls were left to their own devices for so long or that they held the entire household in their grip. All with the seeming acquiecence of traditional West Indian parents and a military dad to boot!!??? Baffling! I think Wallace could have shed some needed light on their story if she had looked at this side of the family closer.
I was moved by some of the twins' journal entries, able to gain incredible intimacy into their minds, their world. I think we all are facinated by the secret lives and languages of twins, how they seem to have a bond that transends mere sibling connections. In other entries chosen by Wallace, I felt that she was guilty of one of the most freshman of journalistic flaws: inserting yourself and your opinions into your story. At times I felt she manipulated their words and pain to move her story along. I think this was a dis-service.
Both sisters, in my opinion were brilliant, creative, visual, and incredibly insightful observers of human behavior, strengths and weaknesses.
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