Author: Sonya Mukherjee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 26, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: eARC for review from publisher
In a powerful and daring debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary.
Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.
Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it.
Never have a read a book that benefited so much from a dual POV. Despite sharing bodies, Clara and Hailey had vastly different personalities and opinions. I loved flipping back and forth between their POVs throughout the book. It felt realistic. Clara and Hailey were raised in a small community of Bear Pass, and this turned out to have its advantages and disadvantages. Their appearance didn’t shock or startle anyone in the community,where everyone knew them. They had friends, love interests, and the same problems with the popular kids that any typical teen struggles with. However, because of this, Clara was paralyzed with fear at the thought of venturing out past Bear Pass and into the “real world,” where people could potentially turn them into a spectacle. I understand that the girls were really sheltered, but during one scene, one of them is left speechless after meeting an Asian woman for the first time. Later on in the scene, one of the twins is awestruck by the sight of an elevator. Give me a break.
Clara and Hailey’s relationship with each other was my favorite aspect of the book. They were so different from each other, but their bond was incredibly strong. Because they were conjoined, they’d had to learn to put up with each other’s hobbies and interests. Clara loved going to the observatory to study astronomy, and Hailey was passionate about pursuing art. It was interesting to read about how they had adapted to compromise on these things and when they had disagreements. At different points of the book, each sister contemplated separation surgery in order for their twin to have the opportunity to follow their dreams. Hailey and Clara fought like any other siblings, but when they were upset with each other, they couldn’t storm off to separate rooms. Can you imagine never being able to escape someone when you are angry with them? These aspects of their relationship are something that most of us never have to think about.
Clara and Hailey’s mother was so overbearing that I felt suffocated myself just reading about her. Their mother was obsessed with reading and watching stories about conjoined twins, and especially separation surgery. She strongly opposed separating conjoined twins, and the twins had different opinions on it themselves that they kept hidden from each other. Their mother wanted the girls to stay in Bear Pass forever, continually sheltered and away from people who she was convinced just wanted to take their picture and sell it online. When the girls mentioned possibly moving away for college, her first reaction was something like, “But where will I live if you stay in the dorms?” If it wasn’t so heartbreaking, her over the top reactions would have been almost comical.
I LOVED the ending. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was really nervous about a decision the twins were conflicted about throughout the entire book. In the end, everything played out exactly how I wanted it to.
About the Author:
I grew up in California’s Gold Country, where I spent a lot of time sitting in trees, reading books and writing stories in my head. Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I spend a lot of time sitting in coffee shops, reading books and writing stories on my laptop. I like to play board games with my husband and kids, watch the kids’ soccer games, and scare them with my terrible dancing.
7/18: YA Reads – Q&A
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I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.