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The Girls: A Novel Paperback – April 10, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Lansens' remarkable second 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 readers may forget they are reading fiction. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Rose carries the burden of Ruby's weight. Rose grew to a height of 5'5" and since Ruby's legs never fully developed, it is if Rose is always carrying a child with their legs wrapped around her waist. Imagine carrying your child for your entire life.
"I understand that I am me, but that I am also we."
Rose wants to be a writer. Ruby wants to be an artist who has a penchant for digging up Indian artifacts that are on display at the Leaford Museum. "Aunt Lovey", the girl's adopted Mother, encourages Rose to write her autobiography. This book, THE GIRLS, is written as if we are reading Rose's autobiography as she writes it. How does a conjoined twin write an autobiography without the input of her twin? Well, she allows chapters to be written by Ruby. The chapters written by "Rose" are almost poetic in nature. The ones written by "Ruby" are sometimes hilarious.
You'll laugh and you'll cry reading about the lives of these girls. The longest living craniopagus twins lived to be 29 years old. Rose and Ruby are approaching their 30th birthday.
Amazingly, this book is fiction. Lori Lansens creates characters in Rose and Ruby Darlen that seem so real that I have a hard time believing that they exist only on the pages of this book and in the brilliant mind of the author. And now, in my heart as well.
"I am Rose Darlen of Baldoon County. Beloved sister of Ruby... Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash were right. How lucky Ruby and I have been to be 'The Girls.'"
The book begins "I have never looked into my sister's eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I've never used an airplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that." With sensitivity, humor, love and genuine concern, Ruby and Rose tell their life stories and the stories of those they love. Born on the day of a great tornado, to a young single mother who abandons them, the twins are adopted by Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash. They are raised on a family farm in Canada, not too far from Toronto or Detroit. They are raised in an atmosphere of great love and support by two wonderful and eccentric parents.
Rose is the writer. She is a book lover and has a personality that is both literate and rational. She has done well in school and takes learning seriously. Rose is more of a dreamer and not as much a book person. She loves archeology and has amassed a wealth of artifacts pertaining to the Neutral Indians that she has found on her family's farm. Both girls have these wonderful loving rituals that mean 'I love you' to each other. Rose rubs Ruby's ear and makes sure her clubbed feet (which get cold easily) are covered up at night by blankets. They also bicker and fight, sometimes pinching each other.
We learn about their childhoods, teenaged years and adulthood. At the time the book starts, Rose and Ruby at 29 years old, are the oldest living craniopagus twins in history. We learn about the lives of Aunt Lovey and uncle Stash. We travel with Rose and Ruby to Slovakia and to Toronto. We share their longings and histories. We are privy to their most intimate feelings and desires. We meet their friends and relatives and see them from Rose and Ruby's perspectives.
The book explores issues of individuation and autonomy for the twins, along with their shared universe. It examines what it's like to be different in a world where 'normal' prevails. With sensitivity and poignancy, we are allowed into the twins' inner worlds to see these issues from their perspectives.
The book is beautifully written with wonderful characterization. I was struck by the tone of the book which is written by Rose and Ruby without any self-pity, with a sense of acceptance and pride in who they are. Of course, they yearn to have experienced things that others take for granted and they get tired of stares and questions. However, they are 'the girls' and would not trade their lives for any others. I have ordered Lori Lansens first book and look forward to reading that novel soon.
Most recent customer reviews
They each think from time to time,what it might have been like to have been born norma!.Read more
A story you'll never forget.