The twin sisters Clara and Hailey in Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee (Simon & Schuster, 2016) are not your average 17-year-old twins. As conjoined twins, they are attached at the base of the spinal cord, and as such have never been apart. Their personalities could not be more different, though. And although their life has been private and isolated in their rural California town, when a new (cute!) boy comes to town, they start to question their future.
I loved this young adult novel so much. The premise is so unique, to begin with: conjoined twins. Add in real teen angst and the very real difficulties of unique personalities. The chapters alternate between Clara and Hailey’s perspectives. Clara is a private and quiet individual, and she would be happy to remain home to study the stars in their rural community. Hailey is an outgoing artist who longs to see the world. As we read the story, sometimes I’d nearly forget that they were conjoined twins: They were simply teenage girls going through the growing pains of life!
At one point the girls whine that their father can tell who is talking even when he’s not looking at them. And that is just what I feel the author has done too. The voices of each twin seem unique. They both are cynical in their own way, but, as Hailey points out later, Clara is the one who worries for both of them, and Hailey is the one who speaks out for both of them.
The action of the book directly relates to the characters of these girls. The community is completely familiar with the girls and their unique situation, so the rising action deals with their concerns about a new boy at school, someone who does not know about them. When it turns out that Max likes astronomy as does Clara, a friendship begins to develop. Both girls question, however, what friendship means for them in their condition. Could the girls ever date? Could they ever dance? And would anyone want to? Are they better staying in their safe community, or should they face the
There is so much going on here. Dealing with the new boy and developing crushes. Understanding the youth they’ve grown up with and questioning their friendships. Facing new, unique bullying. And especially, considering college plans. It feels like the typical fall semester of high school for any girl, except these are unique conjoined girls, just to add to their own emotional complexity.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading their story. Their ultimate decisions and their potential for the future gave me a sense of satisfaction.