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Gemini

Review

Gemini

Author Sonya Mukherjee brings to life a startlingly original and profoundly intimate coming-of-age story in her debut novel, GEMINI.

 

Despite being sisters, Hailey and Clara could not be more different. Hailey is an aspiring artist, content to spend hours on end with her paints in the studio. Clara would rather pass the day in the local observatory, staring up at the infinite constellations and galaxies. Hailey is a rebel --- her hair is bright pink, her style is edgy and she couldn’t resist getting a tattoo. Clara, however, is content to fly under the radar; her clothes are in style but nondescript, her look is understated and she has no desire to stand out. Hailey dreams of seeing the world, but Clara is content to live the rest of her life in their sleepy California hometown, Bear Pass.

 

Yet the girls will always have one thing in common: the shared flesh at the base of their spines --- Clara and Hailey are conjoined twins.

“Beautifully written, raw and utterly unique, GEMINI is more than a story about conjoined twins….Mukherjee succeeds in marrying sincere characters and intense emotion with an articulate voice, producing a story that is unforgettable.”

Having lived their whole lives in Bear Pass, Hailey and Clara are now just two more residents of a town with a population of only 2,000, where everyone knows their neighbors. The twins have been assured by their parents countless times that they are normal teenage girls, and in Bear Pass, it seems that way to them, too. No one gasps or snickers as they walk by. They have friends who love and accept them for who they are. For the most part, Hailey and Clara lead wonderful lives. They love and have grown comfortable with their body after 17 years together. For the most part, neither girl would change a thing. That is, until a new boy comes to town.

 

Max seems to be meant for Clara; he’s a cute, normal guy who happens to love astronomy just as much as she does. Yet, Clara can’t seem to gather the courage to make anything happen. But, much to her dismay, she can’t do much to stop Hailey from making something happen for her. Meanwhile, Hailey has her eye on a guy, too --- Alek has been her classmate for years, and his passion for art and his kind nature make him practically her perfect match. Having a crush is stressful enough; having to face it with your sister there at every step makes it that much more complicated --- and, as much as Hailey and Clara love each other and are secure in their own skin, sometimes it feels like everything would be easier if they weren’t conjoined.

 

As senior year progresses, the girls discover crucial feelings and vital truths about themselves. All the while, looming in the future are the prospects of the Sadie Hawkins dance, a summer at art camp, college in Bear Pass or the chance to travel the globe. Mounting uncertainty and angst lead Hailey and Clara in opposite directions, and they struggle to find their places as both individuals and twins. As their situations become more entangled and confused, Hailey and Clara grapple with an even greater issue. Separation could be the ultimate solution to both girls fulfilling their unique dreams…but it could also mean serious complications. And, even if the surgery were successful, it would mean Clara and Hailey would be apart. Is it possible to make such an important decision when their very identities hinge on their bond with each other?

 

Beautifully written, raw and utterly unique, GEMINI is more than a story about conjoined twins. Through both Hailey and Clara’s perspectives, Mukherjee creates a tale about growing up, growing apart and struggling to accept the bodies into which we are born. Hailey and Clara are written with starkly different personalities and ideas, and yet both of their narratives encompass an innate and deep understanding of one another. Throughout the course of the novel, Mukherjee is able to create and develop two strong, likeable and multidimensional heroines, never faltering to admirably define each girl’s distinctive view of her situation’s complexities.

 

Convincing and poignant, GEMINI carries messages for us all about the importance of family and the necessity of self-expression. GEMINI is the manifestation of an ordinary story told through an extraordinary lens, and it will leave readers desperate for more of Hailey and Clara’s distinct brand of bluntness and humor. Ultimately, Mukherjee succeeds in marrying sincere characters and intense emotion with an articulate voice, producing a story that is unforgettable.

Reviewed by Laura T., Teen Board Member on July 20, 2016

Gemini
by Sonya Mukherjee

  • Publication Date: July 25, 2017
  • Genres: Coming of Age, Family, Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1481456784
  • ISBN-13: 9781481456784