If I had not read this book immediately after The Post Birthday World I would probably have liked it a whole bunch more. Frankly, TPBW was a tough act to follow. But this was my book group's choice for the months of May/June so I had to get it read.
The Girls tells the story of twins, Rose & Ruby, conjoined at the head as they near their 30th birthday. Ruby writes 2-3 chapters for every 1 that Rose writes. Their voices are very different and this is meant to illustrate how different they are as individuals despite their shared bodies.
It tells the story of the people around them and their relationship with each other. The book focuses mostly around the people who adopt Rose & Ruby after their birth mother abandons them. Uncle Stash & Aunt Lovey a couple already in their 50s when they are born take the girls into their home and dramatically change the course of their lives . And this is my major complaint. I got a lot about Uncle Stash & Aunt Lovey and the other peripheral characters but I don't get enough of the relationship between the girls. There is a very bizarre story of the family's trip to Slovakia which doesn't give much to the story. Then there is Ruby's baby girl which she gives up for adoption. It all seems so contrived.
I get the feeling that the research for the novel didn't include talking to many conjoined sets of twins and that the author felt the need to add people that she could empathise with to pad out the story. There was so much potential for the stories premise. So much more could have been written about what it means to be a twin. About what it means to be a sister. About what it means to be so connected. Instead I got a very sappy, superficial, bizarre tale of Slovakia.
Book Group Update: KR couldn't make it. M & I were in complete agreement in our assessment. Everyone else felt it was an easy read, not very intellectually challenging. Not depressing after the horrific tale of A Sunday by the Pool in Kigali. We all felt we should perhaps challenge ourselves a bit more.