The Girls: A Novel

( 48 )

Overview

Rarely has the experience of being a sister been so poignantly and memorably captured as in Lori Lansens's triumphant novel. The Girls celebrates life's fundamental joys and trials as it presents Rose and Ruby, sisters destined to live inseparably but blessed with distinct sensibilities that enrich and complicate their shared experiences-of growing up, of finding their way in the world, of saying good-bye.Readers who encounter the girls will find it hard to resist falling under ...
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Overview

Rarely has the experience of being a sister been so poignantly and memorably captured as in Lori Lansens's triumphant novel. The Girls celebrates life's fundamental joys and trials as it presents Rose and Ruby, sisters destined to live inseparably but blessed with distinct sensibilities that enrich and complicate their shared experiences-of growing up, of finding their way in the world, of saying good-bye.Readers who encounter the girls will find it hard to resist falling under their spell.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 16). (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
During a tornado in tiny Leaford, Ontario, twins are born to an unwed teenage runaway. Baby girls Ruby and Rose are craniopagus conjoined twins, connected at the head. Horrified and scared, the new mother abandons the babies, leaving them to be raised by Aunt Lovey Darlen, the nurse present at the birth, and her husband, Uncle Stash. The Darlens raise the twins with love, acceptance, and fortitude. The townspeople refer to the twins as "the girls." When Rose decides to write her autobiography, Ruby reminds her that she has not lived her life alone; thus the book contains chapters written by both girls. The oldest living conjoined twins at the age of twenty-nine, Rose and Ruby, not expected to live much longer, look back on their lives with an affecting poignancy. Contemplative Rose, who considers herself a writer, creates the majority of the chapters. Ruby's succinct revelatory sections provide a candid counter viewpoint. It is interesting to discover how much the girls differ from one another. With pitch-perfect prose, Lansens delves into the minds of the twins, enabling readers to experience their responses and adaptations to the world as well as to observe the reactions of others to the girls. There are several surprises here, including death and an unplanned pregnancy. The topic of conjoined twins could be freakish or odd but not in the capable hands of this superb author. Beautifully written, enlightening and compelling, the novel will appeal to high school students who appreciate realistic fiction. VOYA CODES: 5Q 3P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for YoungAdults). 2006, Little Brown, 384p., Ages 15 to Adult.
—Rachelle Bilz
Library Journal
Twenty-nine-year-old twins Ruby and Rose Darlen are conjoined at the head and share an essential vein, which makes separation impossible. Born during a freak Canadian tornado and abandoned by their teen mother, the girls were raised by Aunt Lovey, the fiftysomething nurse who delivered them, and Lovey's husband, Uncle Stash. In two wildly distinct voices, Lansens brings to life these surprisingly independent sisters (they have separate jobs at the public library) who couldn't get any closer and yet who have secrets from each other and unexpectedly private interior lives, tempered always by a humor rich in what-can-ya'-do self-deprecation. Rose, the catalyst for getting their story into her laptop, is a natural-born storyteller whose exquisite use of language masks many of the shattering truths that blaze forth in Ruby's reluctant long-hand version. Lansens fills Rose and Ruby's world with loving parents who have stories and secrets of their own and friends found in unlikely places. This novel after Rush Home Road speaks volumes about solitude, loneliness, and enormous personal courage. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/06.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lansens (Rush Home Road, 2002) overcomes the inherent "ick" factor in this surprisingly moving story of conjoined twins in a small Canadian community. Ruby and Rose Darlen are joined side by side at the head. Rose, who tells most of the story, was born with a normal body but with her face pulled out of shape. Ruby's face is lovely, but because her legs never fully formed, Rose must carry her. The twins have separate brains, separate personalities and interests. They even have separate jobs at the local library. As the novel opens, they are approaching their 30th birthday. Rose, who loves literature but passed up college because Ruby would not attend, has decided to write her own autobiography, offering to let Ruby compose her own chapters. Rose tells the dramatic story of their birth on the day a tornado touched down, of their mother who immediately abandoned them and of the saintly but colorful local nurse Lovey and her dashing but kindly husband Stash who adopted them. Although Rose often describes Ruby as a stereotypical "shallow pretty sister" (except most such sisters are not conjoined with misshapen bodies or heads), we gradually learn that Ruby is more than a pretty face and has in fact gathered a museum-quality collection of Indian artifacts. Rose leaves it to Ruby to mention the crucial fact that the sisters are dying from a brain tumor. Rose also has difficulty discussing the baby she conceived with a local boy who kissed Ruby's lips while impregnating Rose's body. Having given the baby up for adoption, Rose now yearns to find her. That bit of melodrama aside, the novel's power lies in the wonderful narrative voices of Rose and Ruby. Lansens has created a richly nuanced, totallybelievable sibling relationship between two small-town girls in a community filled with lively haracters. An unsentimental, heartwarming page-turner. Quite an achievement.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316066341
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 4/10/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 193,311
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Lori Lansens has written several films and is the author of the novel Rush Home Road. This is her second book. She lives in Toronto.
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Read an Excerpt

The Girls


By Lori Lansens

Random House

Lori Lansens
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0676977952


Chapter One

ruby & me

~

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. I've never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I've never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. And, if such things were to be, I'd live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so ­exponentially.

My sister, Ruby, and I, by mishap or miracle, having intended to divide from a single fertilized egg, remained joined instead, by a spot the size of a bread plate on the sides of our twin heads. We're known to the world medical community as the oldest surviving craniopagus twins (we are twenty-­nine years old) and to millions around the globe, those whose interest in people like us is more than just passing, as conjoined craniopagus twins Rose and Ruby Darlen of Baldoon County. We've been called many things: freaks, horrors, monsters, devils, witches, retards, wonders, marvels. To most, we're a curiosity. In small-­town Leaford, where we live and work, we're just "The Girls."

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.

Ruby and I are identical twins and would be identical looking, having high foreheads like our mother and wide, full mouths, except that Ruby's face is arranged quite nicely (in fact, Ruby is very beautiful), whereas my features are misshapen and frankly grotesque. My right eye slants steeply towards the place my right ear would have been if my sister's head had not grown there instead. My nose is longer than Ruby's, one nostril wider than the other, pulled to the right of my brown slanted eye. My lower jaw shifts to the left, slurring my speech and giving a husky quality to my voice. Patches of eczema rouge my cheeks, while Ruby's complexion is fair and flawless. Our scalps marry in the middle of our conjoined heads, but my frizzy hair has a glint of auburn, while my sister is a swingy brunette. Ruby has a deep cleft in her chin, which people find ­endearing.

I'm five feet five inches tall. When we were born, my limbs were symmetrical, in proportion to my body. Presently, my right leg is a full three inches shorter than my left, my spine compressed, my right hip cocked, and all because I have carried my sister like an infant, since I was a baby myself, Ruby's tiny thighs astride my hip, my arm supporting her posterior, her arm forever around my neck. Ruby is my sister. And strangely, undeniably, my ­child.

There is some discomfort in our conjoinment. Ruby and I experience mild to severe neck, jaw, and shoulder pain, for which we take physiotherapy three times a week. The strain on my body is constant, as I bear Ruby's weight, as I tote Ruby on my hip, as I struggle to turn Ruby over in our bed or perch on my stool beside the toilet for what seems like hours. (Ruby has a multitude of bowel and urinary tract problems.) We are challenged, certainly, and uncomfortable, sometimes, but neither Ruby nor I would describe our conjoinment as painful.

It's difficult to explain our locomotion as conjoined twins or how it developed from birth using grunts and gestures and what I suppose must be telepathy. There are days when, like a normal person, we're clumsy and uncoordinated. We have less natural symbiosis when one of us (usually Ruby) is sick, but mostly our dance is a smooth one. We hate doing things in unison, such as answering yes or no at the same time. We never finish each other's sentences. We can't shake our heads at once or nod (and wouldn't if we could - see above). We have an unspoken, even unconscious, system of checks and balances to determine who'll lead the way at any given moment. There is conflict. There is ­compromise.

Ruby and I share a common blood supply. My blood flows normally in the left side of my brain, but the blood in my right (the connected side) flows to my sister's left, and vice versa for her. It's estimated that we share a web of one hundred veins as well as our skull bones. Our cerebral tissue is fully enmeshed, our vascular systems snarled like briar bushes, but our brains themselves are separate and functioning. Our thoughts are distinctly our own. Our selves have struggled fiercely to be unique and, in fact, we're more different than most identical twins. I like sports, but I'm also bookish, while Ruby is girlie and prefers television. When Ruby is tired, I'm hardly ever ready for bed. We're rarely hungry together and our tastes are poles apart: I prefer spicy fare, while my sister has a disturbing fondness for ­eggs.

Ruby believes in God and ghosts and reincarnation. (Ruby won't speculate on her next incarnation though, as if imagining something different from what she is now would betray us both.) I believe the best the dead can hope for is to be conjured from time to time, through a note of haunting music or a passage in a book.

I've never set eyes on my sister, except in mirror images and photographs, but I know Ruby's gestures as my own, through the movement of her muscles and bone. I love my sister as I love myself. I hate her that way too.
This is the story of my life. I'm calling it "Autobiography of a Conjoined Twin." But since my sister claims that it can't technically ("technically" is Ruby's current favourite word) be considered an autobiography and is opposed to my telling what she considers our story, I have agreed that she should write some chapters from her point of view. I will strive to tell my story honestly, allowing that my truth will be coloured a shade different from my sister's and acknowledging that it's sometimes necessary for the writer to connect the dots.


Excerpted from The Girls by Lori Lansens Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

"We've been called many things: freaks, horrors, monsters, devils, witches, retards, wonders, marvels. To most, we're a curiosity. In small-town Leaford, where we live and work, we're just 'The Girls.'"

Rose and Ruby Darlen are closer than most twin sisters. Indeed, they have spent their twenty-nine years on earth joined at the head. Given that they share a web of essential veins, there is no possibility that they can be separated in their lifetime.

Born in a small town in the midst of a tornado, the sisters are abandoned by their frightened teenaged mother and create a circus-like stir in the medical community. The attending nurse, however, sees their true beauty and decides to adopt them. Aunt Lovey is a warm-hearted, no-nonsense woman married to a gentle immigrant butcher, Uncle Stash. The middle-aged couple moves to a farm where the girls - "not hidden but unseen" - can live as normal a life as possible.

For identical twins, Rose and Ruby are remarkably different both on the inside and out. Ruby has a beautiful face whereas Rose's features are, in her own words, "misshapen and frankly grotesque." And whereas Rose's body is fully formed, Ruby's bottom half is dwarfish - with her tiny thighs resting on Rose's hip, she must be carried around like a small child or doll. The differences in their tastes are no less distinct. A poet and avid reader, Rose is also huge sports fan. Ruby, on the other hand, would sooner watch television than crack open a book - that is, anything but sports. They are rarely ready for bed at the same time and whereas Rose loves spicy food, Ruby has a "disturbing fondness for eggs."

On the eve of their thirtiethbirthday, Rose sets out to write her autobiography. But because their lives have been so closely shared, Ruby insists on contributing the occasional chapter. And so, as Rose types away on her laptop, the technophobic Ruby scribbles longhand on a yellow legal pad. They've established one rule for their co-writing venture: neither is allowed to see what the other has written. Together, they tell the story of their lives as the world's oldest surviving craniopagus twins - the literary Rose and straight-talking Ruby often seeing the same event in wildly different ways. Despite their extreme medical condition, the sisters express emotional truths that every reader will identify with: on losing a loved one, the hard lessons of compromise, the first stirrings of sexual desire, the pain of abandonment, and the transcendent power of love.

Rose and Ruby Darlen of Baldoon County, Ontario, are two of the most extraordinary and unforgettable characters to spring into our literature. As Kirkus Reviews puts it, "The novel's power lies in the wonderful narrative voices of Rose and Ruby. Lansens has created a richly nuanced, totally believable sibling relationship... An unsentimental, heartwarming page-turner." The National Post writes: "Lansens's beautiful writing is so detailed that it is often easy to forget that the material is not based on a true story. She captures what it would be like never to sleep, bathe, go for a walk, or meet friends on your own."

1. Rose begins her autobiography with a list of things she has never experienced. How does she revise this list in the final chapter - and what does the revised passage reveal about how she has evolved over the course of the novel?

2. As a fictionalized autobiography, The Girls offers many insights into the art of the memoir. What challenges does Rose encounter while writing - and how does she deal with them? Consider, for instance, her decision to write the book chronologically.

3. Throughout your reading, did you ever have to remind yourself that The Girls is a novel as opposed to an actual memoir?

4. Ruby innocently reveals information that Rose is either withholding or simply hasn't broached yet. What impact did these revelations have on you? How would you describe the sisters' respective writing styles?

5. The novel contains many comic moments. Which scenes stand out for you as most amusing?

6. The Girls has been described as ultimately optimistic. What role does hope play in the story? How do the girls triumph over their situation? What role does Aunt Lovey play in helping them to become strong, both emotionally and physically?

7. "We've been called many things: freaks, horrors, monsters, devils, witches, retards, wonders, marvels...In small-town Leaford, where we live and work, we're just 'The Girls.'" What role does language play in the novel with respect to naming and labeling?

8. Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash are deeply committed to one another and very much in love. How do you understand Uncle Stash's infidelity in this context?

9. The novel is set near the Windsor-Detroit border, where the Ambassador Bridge joins Canada and the U.S. Does the novel's setting have metaphorical significance in your view?

10. Rose writes: "There is some alienation, of course, in being so different, but it's also been fascinating, and a unique opportunity, I think, to have observed our generation without fully participating in it." Besides Rose and Ruby, who else might be considered an outsider in the novel?

11. The Girls contains numerous parallels and symmetries. For example, both Rose and her daughter will never know their birth mother. What other parallels and symmetries - in terms of plot, character and setting - caught your attention?

12. How did you respond to the scene with Frankie Foyle? Were you curious about the sisters' sexuality before you reached this chapter? What other aspects of conjoinment fascinated you or helped you to see the world differently?

13. Discuss the various mother figures that appear in The Girls.

14. How did you feel about the ending - in particular, not knowing precisely what happens to the sisters?

15. Imagine that you were a neighbour or co-worker of Ruby and Rose. Which sister do you think you'd get along with better?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(17)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    LIFE-AFFIRMING, REMARKABLE, MAGNIFICENT, HEART-WRENCHING, INSPIRING...

    This lovely book is written as a memoir and is narated by sisters Ruby and Rose (the oldest living conjoined twins),about to reach their 30th birthday.They were born in 1974 in Leaford, Canada, during a tornado. Their birth mother abandoned them but a nurse named Lovey Darlen rescued them. She convinced her husband to adopt the girls. At present, Rose has been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm that will soon kill them. Rose is determined to write her autobiography with her sister's help.

    As the story moves along, the reader begins to see traits of Rose in Ruby and Ruby in Rose. The sisters appear to switch roles at times. Their unique personalities become clearer as their story unfolds.

    We can scarcely imagine what it would be like to be a conjoined twin. Lansens has crafted an amazing story of unbelievable courage, love, and a yearning for independence.
    BE PREPARED FOR TEARS!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 22, 2010

    Ir was amazinggg!

    People really need to read this book. The author makes the charachters come alive througout the story. Also, by the end you grow really attatched to the two sisters, and their story. It makes you realize that sometimes the hardest situations can be the most rewarding.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    In what has to be the best blend of heartbreaking sadness and unbelievable joy, author Lori Lansens has managed to write a novel about two girls that you will not soon forget -- if ever. After I finished THE GIRLS, I felt many emotions, but the strongest was that I had just read the story of two of my best and dearest friends. And even though I know that this story is fiction, I can't help but think that somewhere, two girls share a life that is a lot like that of Rose and Ruby Darlen. Rose and Ruby are twins, yes, but they are also so much more. They are craniopagus twins, born conjoined at the right side of the head. As Rose puts it, she's never looked into her sister's eyes, she's never bathed alone, and she's never taken a solo walk. But what Rose lacks in aloneness is made up for with the closeness that she shares with Ruby, her sister, best friend, confidant, and greatest admirer. The Darlen sisters were born in the small town of Leaford on the same day that a tornado struck the town and scooped up a young boy named Larry Merkel, who was never seen again. On the day that their mother, a young, frightened woman who called herself Elizabeth Taylor, gave birth, she was attended to by a devoted nurse known as Lovey. When the girls' mother later disappeared a week after that fateful day, much as Larry Merkel had been blown into the wind, it was Lovey Darlen who chose the girls as her own -- or, rather, they chose each other. As Rose and Ruby struggle to learn to live together and yet retain their own individuality, it is their Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash who provide the love, comfort, and stability that the girls need. Being a conjoined twin has both its benefits and detriments, as both girls learn from an early age. But with the love of their family and the help, support, and dedication of a wonderful cast of supporting characters, the Darlen girls make a name for themselves in Leaford. THE GIRLS is written as an autobiography, started by Rose to tell the story of her life -- and, with it, the story of Ruby's life, as well. Interspersed with chapters written by Ruby herself, the story doesn't always unfold in chronological order. The things Rose deems important, of course, don't always coincide with what Ruby believes to be necessity. I laughed while reading this novel, and many times I cried. I went through joy and sorrow, much as the characters did. This is the first story I've read in a very long time that moved me to feel what the characters felt, to feel, in the end, as if I knew them. I applaud Ms. Lansens for her wonderful writing skills, and, although I am sad to say goodbye to Rose and Ruby Darlen, I wish them the best that life has to offer. **Reviewed by: Jennifer Wardrip, aka 'The Genius'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    TOP OF THE CHARTS NARRATIVE

    Seems to this listener that audio books are simply getting better and better. Case in point is The Girls, the story of conjoined twins, Rose and Ruby, as narrated by Stephanie Zimbalist and Lolita Davidovich. Both of these readers are acclaimed actresses and assets to any narrative. Stephanie Zimbalist comes from a family of actors and has a lengthy as well as prestigious roster of acting credits. TV fans well remember her for her six year tenure as Laura Holt in Remington Steele. Now let's move on to her stage credits where we find her in The Cherry Orchard with Alfred Molina and the national tour of One and Only with Tommy Tune. Versatile? You Bet! Lola Davidovich is familiar to many for her numerous cinema roles, including Gods and Monsters with Ian McKellen and Lynn Redgrave. She has an unforgettable voice, by turns rich and challenging. Our story opens with Rose speaking: '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. I've never driven a car. Or slept through the night. Never a private talk. Or solo walk. I've never climbed a tree. Or faded into a crowd. So many things I've never done, but oh, how I've been loved. And, if such things were to be, I'd live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially. ' One can scarcely imagine what it would be like to be a twin, let alone a conjoined twin. Yet, Lori Lansens has crafted an amazing story of great personal courage, love, and a yearning for independence. In this tale Rosie and Ruby are the world's oldest conjoined twins with remarkable lives to share. Listen and be moved by their extraordinary experiences. Highly recommended. - Gail Cooke

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    INTERESTING LIFE OF CONJOINED TWINS!

    This is a terrific character study that looks deep into the relationship between conjoined twins, who have distinct personalities and even rivalries as each lives a relatively normal lifestyle making them seem real and their relationship plausible;adoptive parents add to the depth.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    Terrific read, fast paced and very clever writing

    Lori Lansens manages to capture your attention from the start with this fictional autobiography. The character development is thoughtful and thorough and you really feel the emotions of the characters which the author aptly portrays. The storyline is offbeat enough and keeps you wondering what will happen next as you see the girls' lives unfold. It's a page turner and you hope to see The Girls succeed in life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 30, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Wardrip, aka "The Genius" for TeensReadToo.com

    In what has to be the best blend of heartbreaking sadness and unbelievable joy, author Lori Lansens has managed to write a novel about two girls that you will not soon forget -- if ever. After I finished THE GIRLS, I felt many emotions, but the strongest was that I had just read the story of two of my best and dearest friends. And even though I know that this story is fiction, I can't help but think that somewhere, two girls share a life that is a lot like that of Rose and Ruby Darlen. <BR/><BR/>Rose and Ruby are twins, yes, but they are also so much more. They are craniopagus twins, born conjoined at the right side of the head. As Rose puts it, she's never looked into her sister's eyes, she's never bathed alone, and she's never taken a solo walk. But what Rose lacks in aloneness is made up for with the closeness that she shares with Ruby, her sister, best friend, confidant, and greatest admirer. <BR/><BR/>The Darlen sisters were born in the small town of Leaford on the same day that a tornado struck the town and scooped up a young boy named Larry Merkel, who was never seen again. On the day that their mother, a young, frightened woman who called herself Elizabeth Taylor, gave birth, she was attended to by a devoted nurse known as Lovey. When the girls' mother later disappeared a week after that fateful day, much as Larry Merkel had been blown into the wind, it was Lovey Darlen who chose the girls as her own -- or, rather, they chose each other. <BR/><BR/>As Rose and Ruby struggle to learn to live together and yet retain their own individuality, it is their Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash who provide the love, comfort, and stability that the girls need. Being a conjoined twin has both its benefits and detriments, as both girls learn from an early age. But with the love of their family and the help, support, and dedication of a wonderful cast of supporting characters, the Darlen girls make a name for themselves in Leaford. <BR/><BR/>THE GIRLS is written as an autobiography, started by Rose to tell the story of her life -- and, with it, the story of Ruby's life, as well. Interspersed with chapters written by Ruby herself, the story doesn't always unfold in chronological order. The things Rose deems important, of course, don't always coincide with what Ruby believes to be necessity. <BR/><BR/>I laughed while reading this novel, and many times I cried. I went through joy and sorrow, much as the characters did. This is the first story I've read in a very long time that moved me to feel what the characters felt, to feel, in the end, as if I knew them. I applaud Ms. Lansens for her wonderful writing skills, and, although I am sad to say goodbye to Rose and Ruby Darlen, I wish them the best that life has to offer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2008

    I wish this book would never end....

    I never wanted this book to end. I fell in love with these two wonderful girls as if they were my best friends. Rose telling me her story in my right ear and Ruth in my other ear. I laughed out loud many a times. A wonderful, sentimental set of characters... you won't regret the emotions you feel throughout this read. I will recommend it to all my friends. I look forward to reading Lori Lansens other books.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2008

    Unbelievably believable!

    Lyrical, poetic prose opens this heartwarming and unique story of conjoined twins Rose and Ruby and the lives they led, both separately as two individuals with different likes and dislikes and together as sisters who must rely on each other solely for their very existence. Joined at the head, `The Girls¿--as they are known as in their small Ontario town--are raised by loving adoptive parents Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, after their birth mother disappears shortly after giving birth. The conjoined twins are considered the pride of the town, not an oddity, and they rise above what most of us would think of as a handicap or disability and love each other unconditionally. The Girls is a diary told in two voices--Rose¿s and Ruby¿s. Rose encourages her sister to contribute to what will become their life story and although she does most of the writing, both characters come to life as they observe the lives of everyone they meet, sharing their innermost thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams with the reader. I found myself so connected to Rose and Ruby that I didn¿t want their story to end, and when it did, I was left with a bittersweet ache for more. The first paragraph reads like pure, sweet poetry that is sure to haunt any reader it is what first grabbed me and pulled at my heart. The Girls opens like this: ¿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¿So many things I¿ve never done, but oh, how I¿ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I¿d live a thousand lives as me, to be loved so exponentially.¿ Lori Lansens is an extraordinary Canadian author who paints a picture of rural Ontario farm life and two distinct lives with a magic wand of effortlessness, vividly colorful description and heartfelt compassion. At times you¿ll forget you¿re reading a novel because it reads with such clarity and believability. In fact, this novel is so full of realism, you may find yourself flipping to the author¿s photograph at the back of the book to see if she is a conjoined twin. Instead, you¿ll find her sitting alone at one end of a sofa, as if waiting for someone to join her. The Girls is a MUST READ for anyone who enjoys an emotional tale of love, loss and the challenges of life. Other books of comparable emotional impact: The Lovely Bones and Mothering Mother: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir. ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif is TV, film and book critic, freelance journalist, plus bestselling author of Whale Song, 'a compelling story of love and family and the mysteries of the human heart.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2007

    Being a Twin isn¿t all fun and games, especially when you're conjoined at the head.

    Conjoined a twin, that¿s exactly what Rose and Ruby are. They¿re conjoined at the head. You may think they¿ll be identical well your totally wrong. Ruby is an artist who loves Indian history and artifacts. Rose loves to read, write, and watch sports. Rose is writing an autobiography about being a conjoined twin, and she is set back because she cannot find a title that will grasps the reader¿s eyes. She writes about her trip to Gronovo and losing her aunt and uncle. She also adds about her favorite moments living back at home like working in the library and going to the museum. Rose isn¿t the only one writing pages in this autobiography, so is Ruby. Ruby primarily writes about her scientific findings of Indian artifacts and how there being put in the museum. Their Uncle Stash and Aunt Lovey decided to take Stash¿s mom¿s ashes to her hometown, Gronovo. While they¿re there, they meet their uncle¿s side of the family and some crazies that are superstitious. Will they survive being the oldest conjoined twins and make it to thirty? And will Rose and Ruby make it to their museum with all of Ruby¿s artifacts? I can¿t really say that I related to the twins physically or mentally, but I understand their difficulties and problems. In the beginning, there wasn¿t that much excitement, but when I got to the fourth or fifth chapter the pace started picking up because of a significant event. Lori Lansens did a fantastic job using imagery and letting you feel what these girls were going through. This book reminds me of Simon Birch and A Walk to Remember, and if you like these movies this book should hit the spot. Even though this is kind of a girly book anyone that wants to read it should, because the moral and lesson that you learn in this book is personal and relates to anyone. If you also like books by Laurlene McDaniel¿s books this is for you. To me, this is the type of book that you won¿t want to put down and when you need a pick-me-up this is perfect for the job!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2006

    One of the best novels I've read in years

    This poignant, beautifully written, character-driven novel is just wonderful, at turns charming, funny, fascinating and breathtaking. The two main characters, conjoined 29-year-old twins, narrate their life stories from two well-drawn and disparate points of view, in alternating chapters (although we hear much more from Rose, the 'writer' of the two). At its core, it is a richly detailed story about the love and conflicts of two extremely interesting women with remarkable tales to tell. I could not put it down and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys lovely writing and stepping into the hearts and minds of characters with unique perspectives on life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    An incredible tale

    In Leaford, Ontario, their teenage mother abandoned the conjoined twins when they were two weeks old. Instead a nurse Aunt Lovey and her spouse Stash adopted and raised them as if Ruby and Rose Darlen were not connected at the head. Rose has the fully developed normal body but a distorted face pulled out of shape towards Ruby's pretty normal face. Ruby¿s legs never developed so Rose does the walking for both of them. As Lovey intended when she showered them witth love and nurturing as two people, they have differing personalities and even separate jobs at the library.--------------- Nearing their thirtieth birthday, Rose starts writing her autobiography while persuading Ruby to do likewise. Rose tells much of their past starting with the birth during a tornado, the abandonment, and the loving nurturing of Lovey and Stash. Ruby provides some tidbits that she is not just a pretty face as her sibling insists with an Indian artifact collection as her proof. However, neither wants to explain how they are dying from a tumor though Ruby tries nor how Rose became pregnant (gave up the child for adoption) with a boy who kissed Ruby while deflowering her. This is the story of two sisters who have never looked into each other¿s eyes.--------------- THE GIRLS is a terrific character study that looks deep into the relationship between sisters. The key to the tale is that Lori Lansens avoids turning the conjoined twins into melodramatic caricatures instead they have distinct personalities and even rivalries as each lives a relatively normal lifestyle making them seem real and their relationship plausible. The support cast especially their adoptive parents add to the depth of two siblings living normal separate lives though facially tied together.-------------------- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Good Read-very interesting

    Good book with an interesting prospective given from each of the conjoined twins this book is about. Easy to follow the storyline and a fairly quick read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    New here!

    Hello, uhm, I wanted to know if this book is recommended to everyone. Like, can young adults read it? :) is it for boys or only girls? Please respond! Thank you!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2010

    Amazing, But Not For Everyone

    I loved this book. My roommate read it and thought I would like it so she loaned it to me. The author has a lot of creativity and unique ideas. She wrote about things and in ways that a lot of other authors might shy away from. She makes you genuinely care about the characters and to this day, I care about the girls. I would definitely recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2008

    If you're looking for something different, this is it.

    I chose this book because the subject matter sounded interesting and different from what I'm used to reading. I wasn't disappointed. You quickly forget that this is fiction and get pulled in and along with Rose and Ruby, conjoined twins. Just one of those stories you can spend hours reading.

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    Posted February 19, 2011

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    Posted January 16, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2009

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    Posted September 14, 2009

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