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Lori Lansens’ “The Girls” (Random House Canada)

From the cataclysmic opening chapters containing three simultaneous freaks of nature: a killer tornado, the apotheosis of a small boy, and the birth of conjoined, craniopagus twins–Lori Lansens siezes the attention of her readers.

Then the dramatic pace changes. Like a poker-player who shows their hand and confidently proceeds to win the game, Lansens tells us the ending of the story: the twins will not survive their 30th birthday. Thus begins the methodical recounting of the “the girls’” story, orchestrated like the andante movment in a great concerto that sweetly chronicles their lives of as told through alternating chapters from each sister’s perspective of their quiet existence as

“people living outside but not apart”

of society. The reader is drawn into a love story centered on the unique vissisitudes and challenges of their connectedness. The solid conclusion is that we are more alike than different — however strange and freakish we appear.

Set in the border region of Southern Ontario, where Lori grew up and has set both her first novels, (Rush Home Road, the story of the underground railway joining African American slaves to freedom has been optioned by Whoopi Goldberg,) have solidly placed her in the Canadian literary firmament. Almost all Canadians, who predominantly live within the same 150-mile-radius of the US-Canadian border at the 49th parallel can relate to the phenomenon. The vastness of our two countries; the similar and yet distinct cultures; the differing politcal ideation founded when the US revolted and the Canadians remained loyalists.

We all as children took drives through the countryside with our parents on Sunday. We all spent lazy days on our backs looking up at clouds and studying nature as junior biologists. We all experimented sexualy and learned responsibility for our actions. We all recognize pieces of ourselves in this story.

So get your hands on a copy of The Girls in hardcover right now, or advance order the paperback version due out this July, and lobby your group to read both Lori’s books together.