Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Format: e-ARC (NetGalley)
Page Count: 336 pages
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
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.
I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster for approving me to receive an arc of Gemini via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This also happens to be my very 1st arc & I’m glad that it was Gemini.
Gemini turned out to be a very fast read for me, which is to say kudos to the author for the pacing which was on point. I enjoyed being given a seat at the table with Clara & Hailey; a set of conjoined twins in their last year of high school, and all of their friends. When we first meet Clara & Hailey, the author lets us know that they are polar opposites. Whilst Clara is more subdued, into the sciences, enjoys blending in as much as possible…Hailey is more of an extrovert with pink hair & black eyeliner, a very talented artist with a wanderlust soul. The girls are very much in sync in more ways than one. Although they are only attached by their lower spinal region (each has their own unattached set of legs), the twins share sensations from the torso down. If Clara were to stub her toe, both she & Hailey would feel the pain.
The setting for the most part is the twins high school in a small town where they share a group of girlfriends. Hailey & Clara’s parents are two college professors who left L.A. and relocated to the small town of Bear Pass in an attempt to give the twins a quiet & less complicated life. In the small town of Bear Pass, everyone knows each other & for the most part have gotten used to seeing and being around the twins. One of the best parts of this book had to be the twins support system within their small circle of friends. Juanita (twins’ BFF) was a Godsend, she never treated the twins any differently & was always a great listener, even when she had issues of her own to deal with. Friends like Juanita are one in a million.
Clara & Hailey are in their last year of high school & with graduation right around the bend, came a lot of anxiety over identity. The girls have an amazing bond and each one wants the other to live the life they always dreamed of yet it all seems impossible to attain. They tackled the topics of dating, college, living independently, the possibility of having the very risky surgical procedure to separate them, and lastly the financial costs. In the background we are introduced to their parents and we learn a bit about their lives before the twins & what led them to move away from a big city. Although the interactions between the twins and their dad were brief, I really enjoyed his parts and could tell that he was more open minded. The twin’s mom on the other hand, had pretty much become a master of all trades. Besides being a professor, she tailors all of Hailey & Clara’s clothing, maintains an active role/presence in their school to make sure they have everything they need and drives them to/from school in a van that accommodates them. Mom is also fixated on watching videos of unsuccessful surgical procedures of conjoined twins in an effort to reassure herself that she made the right decision when she opted to keep them together in their infancies. Their portrayal of concerned parents who have sacrificed a lot for the love & safety of their children felt authentic.
I gave this book a 3.5-star rating only because I struggled with telling the twins voices apart. The book is divided by the twins in alternating chapters & as much as they are described to be polar opposites, I couldn’t differentiate between the two and often found that I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see whose perspective I was reading from. Since I was already invested in the story & was rooting for the girls, I put in the bit of effort to look back and see whose narrative I was reading but I can see how it may affect others reading experience.
Overall, I really did enjoy this story and the fact that the ending was not made out to be some sort of happy ending but instead felt like a new beginning for Hailey & Clara. I would recommend Gemini to a friend.