Summary and book reviews of The Girls by Lori Lansens

The Girls

by Lori Lansens

The Girls
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  • First Published:
    May 2006, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2007, 368 pages

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Book Summary

Meet Rose and Ruby: sisters, best friends, confidantes, and conjoined twins. When Rose, the bookish sister, sets out to write her autobiography, it inevitably becomes the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby, the beautiful one. From their awkward first steps--Ruby's arm curled around Rose's neck, her foreshortened legs wrapped around Rose's hips-- to the friendships they gradually build for themselves in the small town of Leaford, this is the profoundly affecting chronicle of an incomparable life journey.

Meet Rose and Ruby: sisters, best friends, confidantes, and conjoined twins. Since their birth, Rose and Ruby Darlen have been known simply as "the girls." They make friends, fall in love, have jobs, love their parents, and follow their dreams. But the Darlens are special. Now nearing their 30th birthday, they are history's oldest craniopagus twins, joined at the head by a spot the size of a bread plate.

When Rose, the bookish sister, sets out to write her autobiography, it inevitably becomes the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby, the beautiful one. From their awkward first steps--Ruby's arm curled around Rose's neck, her foreshortened legs wrapped around Rose's hips-- to the friendships they gradually build for themselves in the small town of Leaford, this is the profoundly affecting chronicle of an incomparable life journey.

As Rose and Ruby's story builds to an unforgettable conclusion, Lansens aims at the heart of human experience--the hardship of loss and struggles for independence, and the fundamental joy of simply living a life. This is a breath taking novel, one that no reader will soon forget, a heartrending story of love between sisters.

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 ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The Girls is written as a fictional autobiography. Why do you think the author chose this format? Did you ever have to remind yourself while reading that The Girls is a novel rather than a memoir?
  2. Rose and Ruby have spent every moment of their lives bound to each other, and yet they have forged two very distinct personalities and ways of looking at the world. What does this novel say about identity? How does each sister manifest individuality? In what ways do they borrow from each other?
  3. The girls are accustomed to being stared at. But when they travel with Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash to Slovakia, they find themselves in a situation where for the first time in their lives not one person stares. Why does Rose ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

If you've enjoyed books such as The Time Traveler's Wife, you are likely to find that Lansen's blend of tragic-comedy will draw you in and leave you well satisfied.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (337 words).

Media Reviews

Time Magazine

Extraordinary…a masterful and sophisticated duet…a multidimensional vision of the sisters' lives.

Isabel Allende

Lori Lansens's blend of tragedy and comedy will touch you deeply.

Publisher's Weekly

Lansens captures a contradictory longing for independence and togetherness that transcends the book's enormous conceit.

Booklist - Kristine Huntley

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.

Library Journal

This novel...speaks volumes about solitude, loneliness, and enormous personal courage.

Kirkus Reviews

An unsentimental, heartwarming page-turner. Quite an achievement.

NOW magazine

The Girls, the year's best book to come out of Canada, possibly the world.

Toronto Star

Not just a sophisticated literary accomplishment but a darned good read.

Reader Reviews

River

OMG
Omg I wanted to cry, laugh, and just smile at the same time. If I did my face would have cracked in half.

Stacey

The girls
I have just finished reading this book and i can honestly say that it bought a few tears to my eyes. From start to finish i found it hard to put down. I forgot at times that these two girls were conjoined. Its an amazing book about the reality of ...   Read More

Charlene

Different
This book was different. Because the writing was well done, it helped to pull the reader even more into the well-conceived tale. It was a book that many will enjoy.

Marilyn

a good read
I enjoyed reading this book. It was sad at times, going off in unnecessary directions with too many details at times and stereotyped when discussing the trip to Slovakia. But I kept reading. The writer was able to create a realistic description ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Conjoined twins occur in about 40,000 births but only about once in every 200,000 live births. Craniopagus-twins occur in only about one in every 10 million live births.

Did you know?
Medical advances have led to the discovery of another type of twin, known as tetragametic chimeras, where the embryos of two ...

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