Please excuse the repetitiveness of this statement, I know I’ve said it before, but it’s my opinion that a novel, or movie, or song for that matter, has a different impact on a person depending on the moment in their lives when they are exposed to those art forms.
That said, I just finished reading the novel The Girls by Lori Lansens. I was reading it at the same time as I was reading The Gargoyle, (which you can read about approximately 10 posts back). Two very different books with curious similarities (that I will get into a little later), but first, I want to discuss the impact that The Girls had on me.
My sister leant me this book, and I groaned. Why would I want to read about conjoined twins? What interest could I possibly have in such a story? How could I relate to this extreme? Well, I should have known better than to question my sister’s judgment on this one, because it was far closer to home than I could ever have imagined.
Rose and Ruby Darlen, the stars of the novel, are as unique and quirky as any one individual could be. Rose is a writer, the thinker, the main author of this mock-biography. (I’m not the first to say that it’s hard to remember this novel is not a true story.) Ruby, always childlike, chimes in her two cents as the secondary author of the novel. Together they weave a tale that’s entertaining, funny, sad, heartwarming and heartbreaking, but most of all, a story about sisters. Sisters. What a word. I suppose trying to explain to an only child what it’s like to have a sister, is like trying to explain to someone without children what it’s like to be a parent. But if you ever wanted to know what having a sister means, this novel is the closest thing to a decent explanation I’ve encountered. To steal a saying from my sister, “through think and thin, through sick and sin” sisters we will always be. I’m not a mother, but I have no doubt it’s the most rewarding, heart wrenching, scary, selfish, selfless, character building and character breaking role in the world. A close second would be being a sister.
Enough with the heavy, on to the lighter stuff. The Girls wasn’t all deep and meaningful, it was fun too. Rose is similar to all of us aspiring authors. She goes through the same pains and sorrows, highs and lows and self-doubt that we all do. There is one quote in the book that I would like to share with you all:
“If Heaven is tolerant and writers are allowed (bunch of liars though we are) I wonder if they gather for coffee to ponder the prose they should have written instead.” Thank you Rose Darlen, that one made me laugh out loud.
Now for the critical part of our journey… I am aware that I’m almost always praising the books I’ve read (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo being the exception). As a writer, we tend to read books a little differently, n’est pas? So I’m gonna be a little harsh on the two books I’ve recently read. Don’t get me wrong, I loved them both immensely, but there is one thing they have in common that kind of seems like… hmm… a cop out? They are both written in the first person, and both are written with the clear understanding that this is the antagonist’s first attempt at a novel. They both ask forgiveness of the reader if they aren’t doing a good job, because hey, it’s their first time. Is this the lazy way out or a genius way to get in? How many novels have YOU read that take this path?
If you made it to the end of this VERY long-winded post, thank you for sticking around.