Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pair It With: Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee and One by Sarah Crossan

In this Pair It With I'm featuring two books about sisters who are conjoined twins. The sisters all must contemplate venturing out into the wider world and all that that entails. This is definitely a case where reading the two books together makes for a richer reading experience. I read these books right in a row, and as I was reading, I liked to pretend that these sisters all lived in the same world and that someday Clara and Hailey and Tippi and Grace would connect on the internet, become friends, and then down the road they would all meet. Isn't that a lovely, little fantasy?

Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

Publisher / Year: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - July 26, 2016

Genres: YA Contemporary

Source: ARC from the publisher

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Clara and Hailey are conjoined twins living with their parents in a secluded mountain town in California. The town of Bear Pass has been good to the family, and Clara and Hailey are pretty well accepted by their community. The sisters are seniors in high school and a couple things occur that intrude upon their sheltered life. The first is a boy, Max, who moves into town. Max is someone who has never met the twins and his reaction to them becomes something of a catalyst for the rest of the book. The other big thing is that soon Clara and Hailey will graduate, and, although their parents have certain plans in mind for their girls, Clara and Hailey start to wonder if those plans are what they really want.

I love how Sonya Mukherjee's book takes that difficult transitional period between high school and college and ups the stakes. The things that Clara and Hailey are feeling about finishing high school and perhaps venturing out on their own are so easy to relate to, and yet their challenges are more intense and come with greater consequences.

When I started this book, I thought that it was going to go down one road--a road that has been very well traveled. I was surprised but very pleased to find that the author took an another route, one that is both less overdone and more real.

The one thing that bothered me a little about this book is the lack of distinction between Clara's voice and Hailey's voice. The story is told through alternating perspectives, but I found that unless I made certain to actively remember whose turn it was to narrate, I became confused, and had to think to myself, "Okay, now who is saying this?"

Gemini is a lovely debut from Sonya Mukherjee. 

One by Sarah Crossan

Publisher / Year: Greenwillow Books - Sept. 2015

Genres: YA contemporary, realistic fiction, novel in verse

Source: My local library

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Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins. Joined at the waist, the two have survived the odds and lived a fairly quiet and sheltered life. Lately their family has had some financial difficulties resulting in their inability to pay for the girls' in-home tutors. So now, at sixteen, they are going to be attending school for the first time.

I found Sarah Crossan's novel to be lovely in both its story and its execution. One is a novel in verse, and I thought the style added so much to the story. The verses are all only a couple of pages or less, and they both propel the plot forward and muse on feelings. One brings together realism and poetry. By that I mean that it dealt with issues that you often see in realistic YA fiction--trouble with finances, trouble with parents, trouble with family and friends. And, in addition to the new school and ever increasing financial difficulties, the books takes us to the girls' doctor and therapist appointments. At the same time, the verse gave the book a beauty that made it a more emotional read.

Sarah Crossan handled her subject with a lot of respect. In her Afterward she wrote a bit about her research and intentions. Poignant, graceful,empowering, and sad, One is the type of book that sticks with you. I didn't want to put it down and ended up reading the entire book in one day.

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