Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Girls

I might need to add this book to my top ten list. It's so hard to commit! But after the first sentence, I was already hooked.

The Girls is a novel about the world's oldest surviving craniopagus (joined at the head) twins. When we meet them, they are 29 years old and hoping to make it to 30. Although the book is fiction, it absolutely reads like it could be true. Lori Lansens has a wonderful, poetic style that envelops the reader instantly and makes you want to believe that Rose and Ruby are real.

Rose and Ruby were born in the midst of a tornado and abandoned by their 19 year old mother. The nurse that helped deliver them, Lovey, immediately falls in love with the twins and convinces her husband Stosh to adopt them. The book's chapters toggle between the writing of Rose, whose idea it is to create her autobiography, and Ruby, who is persuaded to add her thoughts to the book as well. While Rose is the main character, she tells her tale in a dry, matter-of-fact way. Very believable. Ruby on the other hand is direct and hilarious. On a trip to Uncle Stosh's homeland of Slovakia (once adopted, the girls call their new parents "aunt" and "uncle" because they are clearly too old to be birth parents.) the family finds themselves in a rather musty, worn-out hotel room. Ruby, who has many intestinal problems, gets extremely carsick, and has an overall sensitive system, refuses to fall asleep because of how bad the room smells.

"I know, Ruby, just close your eyes."
"It really reeks."
"Don't be a baby."
"I'm not."
"Go to sleep, Ruby."
"But it smells like a person's ass."

Totally something I would say. Lines like this is what made the book so endearing and heartfelt. Each girl is indeed her own person with distinct feelings, interests and personalities. There is no happy ending to the story, but the way it's told, you wouldn't want one. It would have only taken away from the truth. This was about a hundred times better for a beach read and probably the fastest I have ever read a book!