To start off this new weekly event, I am excited to bring to you a book that I have recommended to friends over the past ten years. Long before there were "girl" titles popping up all over the place, there was the original "girl" title written by Lori Lansens. Below is a description of The Girls by Lori Lansens. It is a book that so completely surprised me with its impact that I feel to this day it was one of my most important reading experiences. I hope that you will give it a read and love it as much as I do.
Joined to Ruby at the head, Rose's face is pulled to one side, but she has full use of her limbs. Ruby has a beautiful face, but her body is tiny and she is unable to walk.
She rests her legs on her sister's hip, rather like a small child or a doll.
In spite of their situation, the girls lead surprisingly separate lives. Rose is bookish and a baseball fan. Ruby is fond of trash TV and has a passion for local history.
Rose has always wanted to be a writer, and as the novel opens, she begins to pen her autobiography.
Here is how she 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. 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 lovedso exponentially.
Ruby, with her marvelous characteristic logic, points out that Rose's autobiography will have to be Ruby's as well — and how can she trust Rose to represent her story accurately?
Soon, Ruby decides to chime in with chapters of her own.
The novel begins with Rose, but eventually moves to Ruby's point of view and then switches back and forth. Because the girls face in slightly different directions, neither can see what the other is writing, and they don't tell each other either. The reader is treated to sometimes overlapping stories told in two wonderfully distinct styles. Rose is given to introspection and secrecy. Ruby's style is "tell-all" — frank and decidedly sweet.
We learn of their early years as the town "freaks" and of Lovey's and Stash's determination to give them as normal an upbringing as possible. But when we meet them, both Lovey and Stash are dead, the girls have moved back into town, and they've received some ominous news. They are on the verge of becoming the oldest surviving craniopagus (joined at the head) twins in history, but the question of whether they'll live to celebrate their thirtieth
birthday is suddenly impossible to answer.
In Rose and Ruby, Lori Lansens has created two precious characters, each distinct and loveable in their very different ways, and has given them a world in Leaford that rings absolutely true. The girls are unforgettable. The Girls is nothing short of a tour de force.
Additional Comments on Lori Lansens' books:
Lori's most recent book is The Mountain Story (June 2015), and it is a powerful, amazing read, too. I highly recommend it. For information about Lori Lansens and her other books, you can access her Web site at http://lorilansens.com/ She doesn't publish a book often, so you have plenty of time to catch up on her books until the next one.