Rose and Ruby, "the girls" in this novel, are conjoined twins. In fact, at 29, they are the oldest surviving craniopagus twins (joined at the head). Raised by Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, they now live independently and work at the town library. Rose, the more intellectual and bookish of the two, sets out to write their life story. She asks Ruby to contribute her own writings. The result is The Girls, a story that is both enlightening and touching.
Rose and Ruby have overcome a myriad of physical challenges just to live life day-to-day, and are faced with numerous medical issues. They can only view each other through mirrors. This means that although they have spent every moment of their lives together, their experiences and observations are sometimes vastly different. They have also kept secrets from each other. There is a scene where one twin observes a situation she knows will greatly disturb the other twin (who cannot see the situation herself). This is revealed in the novel but, because the twins do not share their chapters with each other, only the reader knows the full story.
Lori Lansens does a brilliant job of describing the significant challenges faced by conjoined twins, while also portraying the twins as everyday people possessed of typical emotions, ambition, and dreams. I also appreciated Lansens' technique of intertwining the twins' stories, revealing different aspects through each girl and allowing the reader to form the full picture of their lives. All in all, quite a thought-provoking read.