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 received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Here’s the thing, I enjoyed this story. I read it, I laughed, I sympathized, I weighed the pros and cons of surgery right along with Clara and Hailey. When they started to develop crushes, I swooned; when they were angry, I felt indignation right along with them. And yet, something critical was missing. Once you got past the initial shock value of the conjoined twins aspect, the story was fairly predictable and fell flat. This became your average, trope-filled YA contemporary with a side of diversity. For me, it needed to be taken a step further. This feels like a draft almost, lacking that fleshed out development needed to make each character seem real.
Clara’s section was honest, heartfelt, and consistent. It truly captured her shy demeanor and the way she struggled to accept her life trapped by her sister’s side. You felt every ounce of crushed hopes and pain when her dreams and aspirations died a slow, angst-filled death. The introduction of Max forces Clara to look at the reality of her conjoined life. Would she always be seen as a perverted conquest, would anyone ever love her for her, and if she were to fall in love and it was reciprocated, how would they ever truly have a romantic relationship with Hailey watching?
I liked Hailey, but she didn’t resonate with me. She’s pushy and brave and willing to take the risks Clara backs down from.
The strongest aspect of this story is the love the twins have for each other. They’re willing to compromise, to think smaller, and give things up so that the other can be happy. And for the most part, they don’t feel bitter about it. The cruel reality of their joint life is an everyday struggle, but their love never wavers.
Secondary characters are presented and show up as shadows. Hazy, slightly developed, but lacking true definition. It’s like a sketch that has yet to have color or shading filled in. Max was intriguing. The introduction of his stutter certainly added another dimension to his character, but he was in and out. It was like looking at him from the outside. His personality was…like anyone elses. He could have easily been Josh or that other pervy jock but with more manners. Juanita was way more present and developed than Bridget, but as their best friends, they were hardly memorable. Their issues became bigger than who they were as individuals. The whole thing with the mean, pretty girl. I just didn’t see the point.
I adored Alek. There’s a dark mystery surrounding him and so much depth. His story is one of the more intensely developed and interesting. I would have loved to see more of him.
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