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Born in a hurricane
on 5 November 2009
Ruby and Rose are conjoined twins (joined at the side of the head) and this book purports to be their life story, written mostly by Rose, who is the ambient twin. Rose has a well-formed body and develops the strength needed to carry Ruby whose limbs do not develop well. They are born in a small backwoods town in Canada, close to the American border and not far from Toronto. The story begins on the day of their birth - the same day as a hurricane hits the area and kills the small son of their tenants, the Merkels. Ruby and Rose's mother does a runner after the twins' birth and a nurse at the hospital called Lovey Darlen takes over their care. She becomes Aunt Lovey and her Slovakian husband becomes Uncle Stash.
A good deal of this book made me feel uncomfortable. When the writing becomes over-mawkish one wants to condemn the whole enterprise and I felt, at times, it was too close to prurience. At the same time it is a feat of imagination that holds all the winning cards. It is sad, it is heart-warming but it is in the end a book about two people who are about to die. Because the girls' are the only voices heard It becomes chokingly claustrophobic and I wished for some distance from which to judge what I was reading. I closed this book with a sense of relief.