Girls by Lori LansensGirls by Lori Lansens


byLori Lansens

Paperback | April 10, 2007

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In Lori Lansens' astonishing second novel, readers come to know and love two of the most remarkable characters in Canadian fiction. Rose and Ruby are twenty-nine-year-old conjoined twins. Born during a tornado to a shocked teenaged mother in the hospital at Leaford, Ontario, they are raised by the nurse who helped usher them into the world. Aunt Lovey and her husband, Uncle Stash, are middle-aged and with no children of their own. They relocate from the town to the drafty old farmhouse in the country that has been in Lovey's family for generations.
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 loved so exponentially.
Ruby, with her marvellous characteristic logic, points out thatRose'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.

"From the Hardcover edition.

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.
Title:GirlsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:8.24 × 5.66 × 1.02 inPublished:April 10, 2007Publisher:Little, Brown & CompanyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316066346

ISBN - 13:9780316066341


Rated 5 out of 5 by from I fell in love with Rose and Ruby I cried and laughed with Rose and Ruby and got to know them both really well. Following this book, I purchased all by Lori Lansen and have been willing her to write more (she has one due out April 2015 - yayay). You will be drawn into this story and I feel you will fall in love with these sisters too. I don't want to say too much as you really need to read this book! It is cleverly written in a diary style and shows how two sisters can be so close, but so different.
Date published: 2014-12-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 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."
Date published: 2008-05-09

Editorial Reviews

"Lansens overcomes the 'ick' factor in this surprisingly moving story... 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. Quite an achievement."-Starred Kirkus Review "It is the true test of a writer's mettle to create a convincing narrator, and Lori Lansens has done it not once but twice in her remarkable novel about conjoined twins. The two fascinating protagonists of "The Girls" live their lives together in every way, and yet nevertheless emerge with beliefs and desires all their own, and with distinct outlooks on their difficult circumstances. Lori Lansens is clearly a novelist with a very delicate touch."-Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha "The Girls, the year's best book to come out of Canada, possibly the world. There's deep craft at work here. The Girls communicates astute insights into the art of the memoir and tackles plot development that would sink most other writers. Lansens navigates them effortlessly. Awesome." -"NOW magazine "I promise: you will never forget this extraordinary story. Love, connection, loyalty, raw humanity and much more are the ingredients of this most unusual novel. Lori Lansens's blend of tragedy and comedy will touch you deeply.-Isabel Allende "A stunner...immensely exciting...a tribute to the extraordinariness of human consciousness...laced with delightful comic moments...not just a sophisticated literary accomplishment but a darned good read."-"Toronto Star "Extraordinary...a masterful and sophisticated duet...a multidimensional vision of the sisters'lives." -"Time Magazine "A compelling read (I devoured it in one sitting)...Lansens' 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."-"The National Post "From the Hardcover edition.