BookPage Teen Top Pick, August 2016
Hailey and Clara are conjoined at the hip, back-to-back, with guts “as tangled together as a vat of discarded Christmas tree lights, and partially fused.” Beyond that, they are normal 17-year-old sisters, with loving parents and good friends. But it’s pretty hard for people to look beyond that. Despite the pains their parents took to raise them in rural California, away from gawkers and media hounds, Hailey and Clara know they are not normal. If Hailey were normal, for instance, she could go to the art summer intensive in San Francisco. She wouldn’t need to worry about Clara’s terror of new places, where people stare and point phones and make the same unoriginal, lewd comments. Clara, for her part, is beginning to wonder about surgical separation, because what guy would want a girl with a sister on her back?
With her debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee sensitively envisions how two conjoined sisters grow through their high school years. As each twin narrates alternating chapters, readers quickly understand that Hailey and Clara are different people. Hailey is sarcastic and arty, while Clara dreams of constellations to explore. And yet the intimacy of their relationship, the way they have learned to walk together, to sit and sleep together, is extraordinary. Nothing is easily resolved here. There are achingly huge decisions and risks ahead for the twins.
This is recommended reading for fans of thought-provoking novels such as Luanne Rice’s The Secret Language of Sisters or Amélie Sam’s I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister.
Diane Colson is the Library Director at City College in Gainesville, Florida.