Pub. Date: July 26, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers!)
Summary: 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.
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Back in March Gemini caught my attention – and how could it not: conjoined twins in the senior year of high school, one wants to move away and experience the world while the other wants to stay in their quiet hometown where they no longer received strange looks. Since then, this book has been one of my most anticipated reads of the summer and when I was able to get my hands on a copy it was all I could do not to drop everything that very second and dive in!
Clara and Hailey aren’t like normal sisters. They’re not like normal twins for that matter. They’re conjoined, forever attached by a strip of skin and a shared lower spine; if Hailey stubs her toe Clara feels the sting. For the past seventeen years it had been ingrained into their minds that they can do everything other girls can…apart from driving a car, of course, or riding a bike. Even learning to walk was a struggle. And the whole dating thing? Awkward.
Clara is perfectly content to stay in their tiny town and attend college where their father is a professor. In a town like theirs, everyone knows each other and they no longer receive shocked looks or have to hear whispers behind their backs. Hailey, however, relishes in the attention. Pink-haired and a forever black wardrobe, Hailey lives and breathes art, a program their local college doesn’t offer. She would love to travel the world and see artists’ masterpieces in person, rather than through her computer screen, but she knows Clara would never be able to handle it. With their senior year of high school rapidly coming to an end, Clara and Hailey have some extremely tough decisions to make – and fast.
I cannot say enough about this book. I loved it. Absolutely, whole-heartedly l-o-v-e-d it. Even though these girls are twins, they couldn’t be more different and Mukherjee did an amazing job at giving each one her own personality, her own individuality. Each chapter alternates between Clara and Hailey and although the girl’s name is listed at the start to signify whose chapter and perspective it is, I could easily tell whose story I was reading. Each girl has her own voice and I was SO impressed by how flawlessly Mukherjee pulled this off! Trust me – you’re not going to mix up these girls.
The incredible amount of research that went into this novel is astounding. Little details I never thought about and everyday tasks I take for granted were called out. While they share a part of their spine, each girl had two arms and two legs. They need to be coordinated in everything they do, from walking to sitting at the dinner table. What fascinated me the most was their sleeping arrangement: they have to sleep on their sides and once they’re settled in for the night, that’s it. If one girl wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to go to the bathroom, for example, she has to wake up the other girl so they can both get out of bed. In one scene Clara’s arm was uncomfortable from the way she was laying, but there was no way she could possibly move. I never really considered how such trivial moments in life – like changing sleeping positions to get comfortable – could be such a struggle and Gemini truly opened my eyes. It would be a lie to say I read this in a single sitting, however. So many times I had to pause and go off and do research of my own! How many fiction novels can boast that?
Hailey is by far the more outgoing of the pair and when a Sadie Hawkins dance is announced she wastes no time in asking a cute boy from her art class to go with her. Dating is awkward enough on its own, but with a conjoined twin…? I love how Mukherjee explored every possible topic in this book. (plus the romance was super cute ♥)
Gemini is definitely a book I could wax poetic about for days. It’s so much more than a coming-of-age novel, it’s so much more than a sister novel. Its intriguing premise was what initially lured me in and within a few pages I was utterly captivated. A mindblowing amount of research, a seriously fascinating story, and magnificently crafted characters all came together to make up this wonderful, wonderful book. It had been one of my most anticipated summer releases and I’m so thrilled to say it didn’t disappoint one bit. Instead it went above and beyond every single expectation. I’m positively floored that this is a debut, but you better believe I’ll be right there when Sonya Mukherjee releases another book (right now, pretty please ♥!)