Author: Sarah Crossan
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction/ Novels in Verse
Number of Pages: 400
Named after their parents’ favorite Hitchcock starlets, Tippi and Grace are teenage girls for whom living a ‘normal’ life was always out of the question. The two young women are conjoined twins, and their mom and dad have spent thousands of dollars to homeschool them and make their lives as comfortable as possible. When the time finally comes that they have to go to public school for the first time, they are unsurprisingly terrified of being treated like freaks and being stared at constantly simply for existing.
Luckily, Grace and Tippi meet some nonjudgmental friends and school turns out not to be the complete horror show they expected- but their continually worsening health problems and the disintegration of their parents’ marriage complicate their lives and force them to think about their mortality.
Most popular culture that contains portrayals of conjoined twins makes them seem almost otherworldly in their separateness and the strangeness of their physical defects, almost to the point of making them seem outside reality. One is striking in that the conjoined twins’ lives are extremely normalized- they go to school, make friends, crush on boys, and occasionally argue amongst themselves.
This story also got me wondering if I would immediately be sensitive and act naturally around people like them or if I would be like all those people who drew lots of attention to Tippi and Grace’s disability and made them feel like freaks. Honestly, if I saw Siamese twins walking around Wal-Mart or something, I don’t think I could keep myself from gawking, though I know that’s what makes people with that condition want to hide away from society.
The truth is, most of the people who make the main characters’ lives more painful weren’t these gigantic bullies and abusers- they were just regular people staring in astonishment at other people because they hadn’t seen anyone like them before. So, I mostly liked this book and it made me feel fascinated by these characters’ lives and emotionally moved by everything the narrator, Grace, goes through. I found it implausible that it’s after tragedy tears the family apart that the dad makes a legitimate attempt to get sober and Tippi and Grace’s younger sister seeks treatment for her eating disorder.
The dad in particular seemed like you’d need to shackle his arms and legs and throw him in a burlap sack if you wanted him anywhere near an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and these people suddenly being inspired by tragedy to get their lives together carried a definite note of false optimism. I recommend this book to both teenagers and older readers as a deeply humane depiction of a fascinating and rarely touched-upon subject.
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