The Girls is the fictional story of Ruby and Rose Darlen, the world's oldest craniopagus conjoined twins. Joined at the head, the girls have had to learn to adapt to their limited circumstances. Ruby and Rose have been through far more than the average person, aside from the fact that they're conjoined. Their mother, young when she got pregnant with them, gives birth to them and flees. A kindly nurse present at the delivery, unable to have her own biological children, falls in love with the infants quickly and she and her husband, who the girls know as Uncle Stash, adopt them. Aunt Lovey, Uncle Stash, Ruby and Rose live in the small town of Leaford, Ontario and although a curiosity at first, Ruby and Rose quickly become an accepted part of the community. The Girls is their story, written in the alternating voices of Ruby and Rose.
I fell in love with this story within the first couple of pages. What stood out for me was the fact that this book wasn't written from a "poor me" point of view. Although Ruby and Rose could certainly justify being bitter given their unique challenges, they are filled with optimism and a certain gratefulness for their uniqueness. Ruby mentions at one point that she is happy that she can be with her sister, her best friend, all of the time; that she can tell by a quickening heartbeat or a heated cheek how her sister is feeling. The girls seem to tackle life's challenges with an overall grace and quiet charm, but that's not to say that they don't have their moments of being frustrated or wishing that they could do something simple, like sleep by themselves.
I especially loved this quote about books, found on page 187 of the edition that I read:
I feel, holding the books, accommodating their weight and breathing their dust, an abiding love. I trust them, in a way that I can't trust my computer, though I couldn't do without it. Books are matter. My books matter.I loved Ruby and Rose and the people that filled their lives. I loved their town (and could relate directly to it since I live in a small Ontario town as well). I loved learning their story, their stories being very different depending on which of the sisters was telling it. I spent a lot of time while reading picturing the girls and how hard it was for them to move as a single unit, to sleep as a single unit, and to even use the bathroom as a single unit. I found the whole thing fascinating and couldn't put it down. Overall, I simply loved The Girls.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of general or Canadian fiction
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010, RYOB Challenge 2010, The Canadian Book Challenge 4, Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Reading Challenge