Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Books About Conjoined Twins

I’m not sure if “I was into conjoined twins way before this season of American Horror Story” is a sentence I particularly want to be associated with, but, regardless of its commentary on my character, it happens to be true. I talk about conjoined twins a lot. Two friends have visited the Mutter Museum* in Philly separately and each brought me back a conjoined twin cookie cutter, so now I have 2 (4?) of those. It’s a part of me now and I just have to accept it. Here are the books helping me to do so.

*For more on The Mutter Museum, read the excellent Dr. Mutter’s Marvels by Cristin (no relation) O’Keefe Aptowicz

The Girls

The Girls by Lori Lansens–This is probably the book that started the whole obsession for me, though if I were feeling Freudian about it I would blame in on the fact that I only have brothers and don’t really understand the bond that sisters have and must be, on some level, seeking out ways to experience it for myself. Ahem. Moving on. This is a gorgeous, heartbreaking novel that happens to be about conjoined twins while also being about family and autonomy and resentment and love.

Verdict: Buy. Buy two, and give one to your sister.



Chang and Eng

Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss–I found this looking for a biography of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins. This is not one- it’s a novel- but it will certainly give you enough knowledge about the twins with which to freak out people at cocktail parties, and also offers a very interesting slice-of-life picture of the South on the eve of the Civil War.

Verdict: Bypass, unless you’re into fictional narratives from historical figures (The Paris Wife, Loving Frank), in which case, this is so your jam.


One of Us

One of Us: Conjoined Twins and the Future of Normal by Alice Domurat Dreger–Working in young adult books, you can only hear John Green mention a title so many times before you cannot physically stop yourself from buying it. One of Us has come up in his videos plenty of times, and with good reason. It’s an academic work that posits, among other things, that conjoined twins should not be separated even if it’s medically possible until they’re old enough to make the decision on their own. A fascinating read.

Verdict: Borrow, and get ready to reevaluate your definition of “normal.”

Celeste Ng, Jesmyn Ward, and Robin Sloan recommend their favorite books in our newest podcast, Recommended. Download it for free from Apple Podcasts or Google Play.