The Conjoined: A Novel by Jen Sookfong LeeThe Conjoined: A Novel by Jen Sookfong Lee

The Conjoined: A Novel

byJen Sookfong Lee

Paperback | September 13, 2016

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Longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award

A masterful and gripping novel from "an undeniably talented writer" (Globe and Mail)

On a sunny May morning, social worker Jessica Campbell sorts through her mother's belongings after her recent funeral. In the basement, she makes a shocking discovery - two dead girls curled into the bottom of her mother's chest freezers. She remembers a pair of foster children who lived with the family in 1988: Casey and Jamie Cheng - troubled, beautiful, and wild teenaged sisters from Vancouver's Chinatown. After six weeks, they disappeared; social workers, police officers, and Jessica herself assumed they had run away.

As Jessica learns more about Casey, Jamie, and their troubled immigrant Chinese parents, she also unearths dark stories about Donna, whom she had always thought of as the perfect mother. The complicated truths she uncovers force her to take stock of own life.

Moving between present and past, this riveting novel unflinchingly examines the myth of social heroism and traces the often-hidden fractures that divide our diverse cities.

Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised on Vancouver's East Side, where she now lives with her son. Her books include The Better Mother, a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award, The End of East, and Shelter. A popular radio personality, Jen was the voice behind CBC Radio One's weekly writing column, Westcoast Words, for three year...
Title:The Conjoined: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.67 inPublished:September 13, 2016Publisher:ECW PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1770412840

ISBN - 13:9781770412842

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay Had its ups and downs,good character development yet needed something more
Date published: 2018-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from COMPELLING Finished Jen Sookfeng Len's book The Conjoined in 1.5 days This family drama is an intense story about filled with secrets and self revelation. I very rarely read Canadian authors but this one set in Vancouver was brilliant, definitely going to check out more by this author.
Date published: 2017-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving & beautifully written A total page-turner and beautifully written. Lee writes complicated flawed characters & combines literary techniques with elements drawn from crime fiction to create a world heartbreakingly real. Recommended.
Date published: 2017-11-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good references to Vancouver, plot uneven Just finished this book. Lee writes well, without a doubt. Having grown up in Vancouver, I related to the references made throughout to the various neighbourhoods there. I felt ambivalent after finishing it: The plot didn't wrap up neatly, which I was fine with; however, the storyline really hinged on the protagonist dealing with the possibility that her mother may have murdered two vulnerable foster children in her care decades ago, and the ending really didn't resolve anything. Moreover, Jessica (the protagonist) seemed to brush aside the potential murders as just a part of who her mother was. This sentiment does nothing the address the vulnerability of children in care, when the potentially murderous caregiver is excused due to her own flawed upbringing. That said, the writing is beautiful.
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing! The Conjoined by Jen Sookfong Lee is one of the worst books I have read this year. Jessica Campbell’s mother, Donna has passed away. Jessica and her father, Gerry are clearing out her things (especially all the health food they cannot stand). Gerry goes downstairs to clear out the freezers (you just know what he is going to find) and finds a body. Detective Chris Gallo comes in to lead the investigation and the forensic team soon finds a second body. Jessica suspects that they are two foster children that disappeared years ago. How did they end up in the freezers? Could her mother have killed them? Jessica is determined to get to the bottom of the story. Jessica must look to the past to get answers. Will she be able to find out the truth? The Conjoined was a strange story with a disappointing ending. The story focuses on Jessica, her search for answers, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Trevor. The novel is disjointed and jumps around making it hard to read. It starts in the present, then goes back in time, then forward, then back. I felt like a yo-yo. I persevered and kept reading though. I get to the end and I am disappointed (upset, disgusted and so much more). The novel has foul language (too much of it) and intimate scenes. I give The Conjoined 1 out of 5 stars (I really did not like it). Jessica was not a likeable character. She is with Trevor, but spends her time fantasizing about Detective Chris Gallo (and drinking too much alcohol). The Conjoined was just not for me.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting I was eager to read this book based on discussions of it on CBC and the synopsis found here. Have to admit that while it was well written and liked the premise, overall it was just another good book but not noteworthy. Read this if you read a lot, but if you are a one a month or fewer reader, then I would give it a pass.
Date published: 2016-11-08

Read from the Book

TWO THOUSAND AND SIXTEENONEJESSICA STOOD AT THE KITCHEN WINDOW, HER ARMS hanging at her sides, hands in pink rubber gloves. The backyard was a mess, as it had always been while her mother was alive. On the side, an unchecked patch of rhubarb was beginning to push up against a ragged camellia bush. At the back, the old bamboo stakes were still stuck in the ground, dried remnants of pea tendrils and tomato leaves partially tied with twine. Needles from the Douglas fir-taller than any other tree on the block, with a herd of starlings that never stopped complaining-lay like a pilly brown sweater over the lawn.But the cacophony hinted at other, more ordered things. The minted pea soup her mother would make every spring. The giant peonies bunched in milk bottles on the dining room table. The smell of lavender as it hung upside down from the mud room ceiling, drying. The neighbours might have tidy rows of heather and rhododendrons-hearty and low-maintenance plants that could withstand the stormy North Shore-but it had been Donna who grew her own pumpkins for pie. It had been Donna they turned to for plum jam. And it had been Donna who came to their doors when a husband was dying or a cat had to be found. She didn't need to be invited. She just knew.Jessica pushed the hair off her forehead, leaving a line of soapy water on her blond eyebrows. Behind her, the cupboard doors were open. Bottles of nut oils and plastic containers filled with flax seeds and kamut lined every shelf in the pantry. For the past month, while her mother was dying in the cancer ward at the hospital, her father had lived on Hamburger Helper, raw carrots and steak burritos from Taco Del Mar. That morning, as Jessica stared at the carefully labelled rows of carob chips and bee pollen, Gerry put his wide hand on her shoulder and said, "I'm not going to miss this shit."Jessica smiled briefly. "Are you saying you don't want to keep it?""What would I do with it? Mix it with some gin and call it a martini?""That would be a terrible waste of perfectly good alcohol."Gerry snorted. "That's my girl."When she was done, there was almost no trace of her mother in the kitchen. Only her set of handmade clay dishes, glazed blue and brown, and the cross-stitch she had hung above the door that said, God grant me the patience to accept that which I cannot change. Jessica packed the recipe binders into a box to take back to her apartment just off Commercial Drive. She doubted she would ever make slow-cooked pulled tofu, but she knew that as soon as she opened the covers the smells of her mother's cooking-muddy and sticky, laced with cumin and soy-would cloud up around her, and she would hear Donna's voice telling her how to gently knead a ball of oat dough so the bread wouldn't turn out stiff and heavy. "Just fold and pivot, Miss Jess. No need to punch it like it's an ex-boyfriend."And then she would hear her laugh. That verging-on-manly chuckle that jiggled her belly and shook the grey-blond curls that fell around her shoulders, riotous. Donna might have dropped stray threads and beads from her clothes while she clomped through mulch and mud, but her touch was always light. Just a fingertip, or the brush of her knuckles across her daughter's forehead when she was checking for a fever. Jessica walked by the big back window and saw her reflection, ghostly against the view of the mountain. She had never looked like her mother. As a teenager, Jessica had grown thin while Donna added to her already substantial body. And her eyes were dark amber like Gerry's, or a cat's. But she had her mother's untameable hair, which Jessica wrangled into submission with a flat iron three times a week. Now, because of all the sweat accumulating on her scalp, she could see the curls forming around her ears, a halo of slowly twisting ringlets. She ran her hand over the top of her head, but this only made it fuzzy, like a baby's. Time to give up, she thought. She cared about being pretty most days, but at this very moment, swathed in her mother's hand-sewn apron, she really couldn't give a shit.Jessica rummaged through the hall closet, looking for a tape gun. She could hear her father in the basement, singing "King of the Road" as he sorted through Donna's canning supplies. Jessica knew they had to empty out the spare bedroom too, the one the foster kids used to sleep in. She could barely remember any of their names and wondered if her mother had kept the photographs she took of them. "Of course, she did," Jessica muttered. "She kept every last fucking thing."There had been no kids in the last ten years, but Jessica was sure the twin beds were still set up, and the small dresser was still empty, waiting for the few pieces of clothing the kids brought with them. When Jessica told her fellow social workers at the office what her mother used to do-accepting a new child every few weeks, holding them when they had nightmares, never scolding when they wet the beds-they listened intently and held their hands to their chests."She must have been a saint," said Parminder. "All my parents did was prevent me from killing my brother.""No, not a saint," Jessica had replied. "But close." One night, when Jessica was six, she had woken up from a nightmare, screaming and pulling at the damp sheets knotted around her legs. Donna came in, fixed the blankets and sat with her, humming a song that was tuneless and wordless but still washed over Jessica like warm water. She had said, into her mother's belly, "I want you with me always."Donna laughed and then sighed. "Well, if I were with you all the time, you'd get pretty sick of me.""No, I wouldn't. For real.""Sure, you would. When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere far, far away from home and Granny Beth. But then," Donna paused and tucked a curl behind Jessica's ear, "Granny never wanted me to stick around anyway." Jessica wasn't sure what her mother had meant when she said that, but as she grew older, she began to see that Granny Beth, unlike other grandmothers she knew, never came to birthday parties or brought her tree ornaments at Christmas. Instead, they drove to Lion's Bay to see her once a year in the summer, in her house on the cliff. Donna had told Jessica every time that she was never to step outside the sliding glass door on to the rain-slicked rocks beyond the living room. The wrought iron fence was solid enough, but when the wind blew from the open sea to the west, everything man-made seemed to shrink, to lose solidity against the sharp-edged air. Granny Beth gave them tea and Peek Freans and never asked why Gerry didn't come, just as Jessica never asked about her dead grandfather. Once, Jessica said Gerry was working and Granny Beth stared and said, "Is that what he calls it? Work?" And Jessica stopped talking. Donna filled the air with stories that withered in the space between them until the hour was up. When they drove away, Donna turned on the car radio as loud as she could. Jessica was glad for the noise.Her mother was no saint. But her grandmother was even less so. Donna had to fill in the gaps somehow."No wonder you're a social worker," Parminder had continued. "You must have felt it was your destiny."Jessica had nodded, but she hadn't been sure if that's what it was. Now, as she taped shut box after box, she thought there just wasn't anything else she was equipped to do. Of course, she had to try to help kids. Of course, she had wanted her mother to be proud. Of course, it hadn't turned out like she'd expected.She had quit child protection after nine months. At the time, she had said to her mother, "There has to be a better way than just walking into a house, staying for an hour and taking kids away. The families need support, not upheaval." Donna had agreed, nodding her head and patting Jessica's hand. But then Jessica spent the next six years going from one support agency to another, hoping every time she started a new job that there would be enough funding and time and will. But after a few months, the agency would miss a small detail, or a child wouldn't tell her everything, or she would forget that she was supposed to call and remind a mother about a parenting seminar that evening. And those tiny things would start an inescapable chain that ended up with one more child in foster care and angry parents who couldn't trust a social worker ever again. They talked in meetings about best practices and leaving no child behind, but small changes in messaging or team-building resulted in no change at all for the families reeling from intervention. Children were neglected. Children were abused. Once in a while, the social workers could help. Most of the time, they couldn't. Sometimes, they made it worse. The number of files she couldn't satisfactorily close grew. It didn't matter how many times she moved them, the pile sat-top-heavy and teetering-in her head. She could never shake them. And she was scared of failing, always failing.Five years before, Jessica had taken a job in the adoption department, planning public outreach so that people would know there were children available for adoption right here and not just in China or Guatemala or Haiti. On paper, it was a noble pursuit, and Jessica almost believed she was making a difference. But every time she put together binders of available children, printing off their most flattering photos and writing descriptions that weren't lies but certainly weren't the truth, she felt like a child pedlar, like she worked in a giant box store selling bright, shiny kids to families who couldn't possibly have any idea how hard it was going to be.Alexis is a bright and inquisitive seven-year-old, she wrote. She loves cats and hopes to be a dancer one day. Because of a difficult early childhood, Alexis finds trusting new people a challenge and is learning to appropriately express her feelings. She is best suited to a family where she will be the only or youngest child and where her caregivers have a basic understanding of attachment issues. The parents came back to their social workers in tears. The children weren't what they had expected. They didn't know if they could survive this. They needed help. And the social workers gave them books, pointed them to the very same support agencies Jessica used to work for and promised to call in a week. The children stayed or they went back into care. Sometimes they went to mental health units or, worse, the youth detention centre. Nothing was different. Even her cubicle stayed the same. Beige, nubby fake walls. A rubber plant. And when she went home, Trevor was almost always on the couch, writing in his journal and sniffling. "I couldn't get Gary a room," he'd said last week. "And we found him this morning in a box off Carrall Street with blood all over his face. He said some shitheads from the suburbs kicked him in the head." Jessica had held his hand while he talked. "And you know what? Next week it'll just be some other poor homeless guy with the same story. It's never enough, Jess."And it wasn't. Trevor could try to find housing for every one of his Downtown Eastside clients, but there was nowhere for them to go. Just condo buildings with recessed lighting. Row houses stuffed full of quaint wooden details and wireless technology. Nothing a welfare or disability cheque could possibly pay for.Nothing changed. Except there was now silence where her mother's wobbly alto should have been.Jessica called down the stairs, "Dad, do you need some help?""No, I'm fine. I'm just getting ready to deal with the freezers. What kind of meat do you think I'll find in there?""I'm afraid to guess.""Me too.""Do you want something to drink? I'm going to make some tea."His voice rose up the stairs. "I could use some water. Thanks."As Jessica walked back into the kitchen, she could hear the hinges squeaking on the freezer doors and the sounds of her father pawing through the stacks of resealable plastic bags. She shook a cookie from its bag onto a plate and headed downstairs, glass in her other hand. As she reached the concrete floor, her father staggered out of the storage room, face grey and bloodless."Dad? Are you all right? Dad?"He leaned over the stair railing, hands at his mouth as if he was afraid he might be sick or that words he hadn't planned would spill out all over the steps. "Dad? Seriously, you're scaring me."He looked up at her, eyes filmy and wet. "The freezer," he whispered. "There's something-"Jessica set the plate and glass on the floor and marched into the storage room. "You should have just said so. I'll take care of it. You drink that water." She smiled. "I have an iron stomach.""Jess, you shouldn't look. Jess, just stay here for a minute so I can tell you. Jess-"But she didn't stop. She walked around the central worktable, past the utility shelving and up to the two big chest freezers against the back wall. One of them was open, light from the door triangulating up toward the ceiling. At first, she saw nothing but ice crystals and piles of freezer bags labelled in her mother's slanted handwriting. But as she looked closer, she could see where her father had dug down to the bottom. The freezer was just over waist high, so Jessica leaned in, her hair brushing the ice on the side. "I guess we have to defrost this fucking thing too," she said, sighing.There was a black garbage bag, dotted with frost, one corner loose. Her father must have pulled it back to see what was inside. Jessica tugged at it some more until the warmth from her hand melted some of the ice weighing it down. She stared. What kind of weird, wild game is this?As soon as the question formed itself in her mind, she knew the answer. It wasn't an animal. It was a small human foot. Five toes. A heel. Frozen.The scream that filled the basement was hers, but if she had heard it in a movie, she would have sworn it was a raccoon or a dying skunk. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," she said as she backed toward the stairs. And then, because it was the first question that filled her mouth, "Mom, what did you do?"TWOFIRST, IT WAS TWO POLICE CARS. THEN A CORONER'S van. Finally, an unmarked car with two plainclothes officers, one a woman in high-waisted navy blue pants hiked over a V-neck sweater. As she propelled herself up the front walk, adjusting the fabric pinching her around the middle, a pale sliver of belly roll escaped and dimpled in the afternoon light. Jessica winced at the injustice this poor woman was doing to her body. And then she thought, Why do I even give a shit? There's a frozen human in my dead mother's basement.Her head ached. As a child, she had always felt on the verge of disaster, as if there were nothing more than a thin line drawn in the dirt that separated her life from another, more dangerous one. In the hours before she fell asleep at night, or during the still moments at school, she imagined her mother getting her hand stuck in the garbage disposal or pictured an earthquake that pulled apart the very foundation of their house and swallowed it piece by piece by piece. On bad nights, when her head ached from the sounds of the late news on the television, she pictured herself being snatched by a man in a ski mask who shoved her into a windowless van, then drove and drove until she could no longer tell if they had been travelling for hours or weeks, or even if she were a little girl anymore. Maybe, instead, she was someone who had grown up without knowing it. Later, as a protection worker, she met small children and witnessed their lives unfolding, one tragedy after another, an inexorable, cruel chess game of events. But, never, even in her most sleepless moments, had she imagined finding a dead body in her mother's freezer. She wondered if she should be grieving. But for whom? Or what? Instead, she felt a creeping, numbing dread tickling its way through her body, core to limbs. Maybe it was the grief coming. Maybe she was just cold.The officers stomped through the rooms and hallways saying very little to each other. Jessica and Gerry sat on lawn chairs by the side of the house, out of the way, but still with a clear view to the street. After Jessica had called 911, she found her father opening a beer in the kitchen."Dad! Not now. You can't be drinking when the police arrive.""Why not? If there was ever a time I needed some booze, it's now." But even as he had said it, he started to put the bottle down on the table."They're going to have questions. And you have to be able to answer them.""We don't have to tell them anything. I can be drunk if I want." Gerry brought his fist down on the counter, looking, for a moment, like a shrunken version of his once formidable lawyer self. He had saved old-growth forests, helped activists avoid criminal charges. But now he just stared at his untouched beer.Jessica sighed. "Dad, this isn't a logging protest. There's a dead body in our house. I think the stakes might be a bit higher. Maybe we should cooperate."Gerry had nodded. And then shuffled to the sink to fill the kettle for tea.Outside in the lawn chair, Jessica twisted her hair, watching the police officers opening blinds and moving with surprising slowness through the house. She looked at her hands, white and long, and thought, They should be shaking. But they weren't. They were only cold, even as a warm breeze blew in from the southwest. After Donna had died, alone and sleeping, Jessica had stood beside her bed, gazing at her mother's body under the thin sheet, at her mother's face, recognizably hers but empty, like a hollow, three-dimensional rendering. She had cried then, harsh, jagged-edged sobs that came out so quickly they hurt as they spun and ripped through her belly and chest and throat. Maybe now there was nothing left, only this barely tingling detachment and the sense that she should be feeling more, that she would feel more if she only waited.She started to ask her father if he was worried, but when she looked at him, he was sagging in his chair, staring blankly at the soggy maple leaves from last fall on the lawn. She patted his hand. "You all right?""I just want my house back," Gerry said, swirling his mug."I don't think you should stay here tonight, Dad. It would be better if you came home with me."Gerry laughed, a short bear-like rumble. "And sleep where? On your balcony?" Jessica leaned forward, ready to argue, but Gerry put up a hand to stop her. "When your mother died, she asked me not to move. Nothing has changed. This is our house together. Period. No arguments."The male plainclothes officer stepped out the front door and blinked at the sun. Jessica could see that he used to be an athlete; he stood on the step like he had been placed there by God, as if his body had a divine right to be anywhere it wanted to be, and that this was the way it had always been. For a second, she wondered what it would be like to run her hands over a man like that instead of pale, bony Trevor, who always trembled under her fingers. But then she blushed. This wasn't the time. Really, really wasn't.The officer turned his head and waved before smoothing down the sides of his curly brown hair. Gerry waved back but couldn't quite hide the half-snarl, half-smile on his face. "There was a time," he muttered, "when I could have reduced him to jelly under cross-examination." Jessica thought it best to just ignore him."Mr. Campbell? I'm Detective Gallo." He strode across the front lawn and pointed at a patch of grass. "Do you mind if I join you?"Gerry shrugged. "Not at all, Detective." Jessica almost laughed.The detective squatted, one knee on the ground, and looked at Jessica. "Call me Chris. You must be Jessica."Before she could answer, Chris continued, "I saw your degrees on the wall in the family room. Your mother must have been proud."What was the point of this small talk? Her mother was dead. Somebody else was dead and lying in the freezer. Someone-anyone-needed to explain everything before Jessica went out of her mind. She had a vision of her brain quivering on the grass at her feet, her skull an empty shell and splintering apart.But she forced herself to answer. "My mother just wanted me to help others. And to be happy.""I really should ask you both a few questions, but before I do that, there's something you need to know." Chris looked up at Gerry, his brown eyes squinting against the sunlight."Spit it out. I want to get this over with." Jessica could hear the thoughts behind her father's words. Get the fuck out of my house so I can have a drink.Chris hesitated just long enough for Jessica's stomach to flip. "What is it? What's going on?" Her voice sounded weak, like it was cowering in a corner, hunched."In the second freezer," he said, and paused. When he started speaking again, his voice was quiet. "There's another body."Jessica stood up and walked toward the bamboo by the front steps. Her head was pounding. She touched a shiny green leaf. So thin. So easy to shred. When she was a child, it was easy to slide behind the plants in the garden. If she stood still enough, breathed with the wind that blew shadows backward and forward, no one would ever see her and she could watch, undisturbed, anything she wanted."What?" Gerry sputtered. "How can there be two bodies?""That's what we're wondering too, Mr. Campbell. And we'd really like to know who they are."Jessica reached out and grabbed a branch of the skinny bamboo. It snapped in her grasp. "I knew it," she said. "I knew it had to be them.""Who?" Gerry gripped the sides of the lawn chair.Detective Gallo stood and approached her. He placed a hand on Jessica's arm. "Who are you talking about, Ms. Campbell?""The sisters," she said. "Jamie and Casey. The foster kids. The ones who disappeared." Then, before she could finish what she was trying to say, she bent over and threw up, vomit running down her shirt, on the grass and Detective Gallo's shoes. "I'm sorry," she muttered before Gerry caught her in his arms and sat her down on the cool grass.

Table of Contents

Prologue - 1

Two Thousand And Sixteen - 2

One - 3

Two - 12

Three - 18

Four - 37

Nineteen Eighty-four To Nineteen Eighty-eight - 52

Five - 53

Six - 59

Seven - 68

Eight - 73

Nine - 78

Two Thousand and Sixteen - 84

Ten - 85

Eleven - 106

Twelve - 136

Nineteen Forty-seven to Nineteen Fifty-nine - 150

Thirteen - 151

Two Thousand and Sixteen - 178

Fourteen - 179

Fifteen - 202

Sixteen - 218

Nineteen Eighty-eight - 228

Seventeen - 229

Two Thousand and Sixteen - 254

Eighteen - 255

Acknowledgements - 263

Editorial Reviews

"The mystery of how the girls died is not the book's main focus, but this captivating novel still moves with the pace of a thriller as it deftly fills in the gaps in the lives of several people, each fractured by horrors of their very own, joined as one in betrayal, trauma, and uncertainty."  - Publishers Weekly"The Conjoined is a complex, refreshing and relevant departure from a well-worn approach, one that's best tackled after surrendering your expectations." - The Globe and Mail"An insightful look at a daughter's efforts to come to terms with the past." - Toronto Star"Every once in a while, a book comes along that is both universal in its readability and specific in its appeal to Vancouverites . . . This is a page-turner - guaranteed to be read hungrily in one or two sittings - but an intensely literary one." - Georgia Straight"Sookfong Lee is a gifted writer, telling a complicated story with depth and insight . . . The Conjoined is a quick, compelling read. But its characters and their stories will linger." - Vancouver Sun"Flawlessly written and a page-turner for sure, The Conjoined is a rare read." - Owen Sound Sun Times"Lee draws from Vancouver's social history, pop culture and an exploration of family dynamics for a woman-focused, refreshing take on the traditional thriller." - Metro Toronto"Sookfong Lee weaves an intricate and unsettling narrative about identity by pairing seemingly disparate stories into a single work which resists the traditional form of a novel in a way which echoes the messy complexity of real life . . . the novel is fresh, and frank, and infuriating - a narrative which resists closure and demands compassion." - Ottawa Review of Books"Lee draws from Vancouver's social history, pop culture and an exploration of family dynamics for a woman-focused, refreshing take on the traditional thriller." - Metro Toronto"Lee's pen makes dangerous, poetic strokes, creating something both literary and textured, etched in satin and grit. Told in character vignettes too immediate to be called flashbacks, The Conjoined is a hungry and visceral novel, anchored in place and time." - Scene Magazine"With flawless writing and gothic imagination, Lee shows how a forgotten crime can reveal uncomfortable truths about family, class, and racism. The Conjoined is a fearless novel and a compulsive read." - Emily Schultz author of The Blondes"Though the plot races along, I found depths to The Conjoined that moved me . . . This book is a gem of necessary truths." - A Bookish Type"This is a story about family relationships and how they can break and fail. It's also about identity, suffering, broken social systems, and understanding how the past forms us. There's a lot going on here, but these themes organically engage and shape one another." - Falling Letters"Creating a protagonist such as Jessica Campbell allows Lee to flesh out in unflinching and sometimes droll ways the hamartia of privilege . . . If one person's escape is another's adversity, The Conjoined implies that we can no longer avert our eyes." - The Malahat Review