Friday, July 20, 2007

Everyone Should Be Loved This Much: The Girls, by Lori Lansens

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Beneath the Marble Sky as the best summer read yet. Equally as excellent is the novel I just finished last night, The Girls by Lori Lansens. I was racing to finish it, because it is due back to the library while we are in Hawaii next week.

Lansens is a Canadian writer, and this is her second novel. It's the story of a pair of conjoined twins, Rose and Ruby, who grow up in a rural area in Ontario. Rose, the more intellectual of the women, has decided to write her autobiography. She eventually convinces Ruby, who seems to be more shallow but actually has a wisdom of her own, to write her own perspective as well.

Although Ruby and Rose are abandoned my their teenage birth mother after she gives birth, they are adopted by the nurse at the hospital, who they come to know and love as Aunt Lovey. She is married to a Slovakian immigrant called Uncle Stash. Even though the world mostly treats the girls as outsiders and they have no friends except for one another, they are raised by people who love them completely and unconditionally. I loved the stories of Uncle Stash's immigration to the U.S. and the whole family's traumatic trip to Slovakia when the girls were teenagers. Rose and Ruby write with beauty about growing up on a farm, experiencing puberty and their first crushes, and encountering the world around them.

Lansens deftly presents their totally unique personalities, through their interests as well as their voices. At the same time, they have an overpowering and complicated love for each other. It was one of the most beautiful books about sisterhood I have ever read.

It is the kind of book that sticks with you for a very long time. I wanted to cry when I reached the ending, and I didn't want to say goodbye to the main characters or to the story.

Read it.

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