Making the Grade / Gemini

Hi friends!

Making the GradeWhat’s new? I myself have rehearsals galore this week, as I’m stage-managing a community production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and opening night is mere hours away! Needless to say, I’m so excited to see the show come together before an audience. Performances and tech week are always a blast, but both call for many a late night leaving the theater. Even that, however, hasn’t stopped me from curling up with a good book upon returning home – I’m currently finishing up How to Read Literature Like a Professor and The Bell Jar for my AP Lit class.

As for books read earlier in the summer, I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Sonya Mukherjee’s debut, Gemini, and I wanted to share a review upon its release! My full thoughts are below, if you’re curious – it’s a winner, in my humble opinion. What are you currently reading?

Making the Grade Gemini

In a powerful and daring debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary.

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.

Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it. {Goodreads}

Main Characters: A
Gemini centers around sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins living with their mom and dad in tiny Bear Pass. The small town setting has provided a comfortable upbringing – everyone knows them, and they know everyone – but as they enter into their senior year, a new question forms: what comes next? It’s a query all students encounter, but it’s holds deeper significance for the twins, who are unsure if the boundaries they live by are a result of their condition or themselves. Clara and Hailey are crafted with honesty, their concerns and dreams, fears and desires never out-of-place with their characterization. Additionally, I feel as if twins are commonly written as polar opposites. Not here: while Clara and Hailey both hold different passions, astronomy and art respectively, Mukherjee avoids the trope, allowing what similarities the sisters have to shine through alongside their personal quirks.

Supporting Characters: B+
Mukherjee invites readers into the thoughts of both twins, alternating perspectives with each chapter; the dual narrative offers Mukherjee an opportunity to develop supporting characters from two points of view. Readers can witness Clara’s rising nerves around her crush, and just pages later, they can read Hailey’s astute observations of the same scene. While this format heightens the dynamics between some characters – Clara and Hailey’s parents especially, as both grapple with their daughters growing up – it leaves others flat: Hailey’s love interest, their close group of friends, and the new kid in town. This is the twins’ story, first and foremost, but that’s not to say several supporting characters left me wanting more.

Plot: A-
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: contemporary novels, such as Gemini, are my favorite because they capture the beauty of everyday life. Some of my favorite scenes were not action-packed, nor fast-paced – Clara and Hailey contemplating together before bed, the two observing the stars or sitting in art class, driving home with their dad – but they still kept me engaged. Similarly, I appreciate the care Mukherjee took in portraying Clara and Hailey’s connection; I, of course, can’t speak to the accuracy myself, but I like to think she nailed the mental and physical connection between the two sisters. My sole complaint? The final chapter, though heart-warming, felt abrupt. An epilogue, perhaps, would have provided the closure this otherwise well-written story deserves.

Writing: A
I was pleasantly surprised at what a simple writing style Mukherjee has; in other words, she doesn’t bother with unnecessary descriptions and flowery language because Clara and Hailey’s story is strong enough to stand on its own. Also worth noting is the realism in the dialogue. The conversations between Clara, Hailey, and their friends, as well as the discussions they have with their mom and dad, read effortlessly, indicating no strain on the author’s part.

Final Grade: A-
Books have been proven to increase empathy, and Gemini serves as an example of such a fact. The average reader likely can’t speak on being conjoined at the base of the spine, but I’m sure we can all find something to relate to in Clara and Hailey’s contrasting feelings of getting away and staying in their comfort zone. I enter contests on a whim, happy to win any book I have interest in, but I’m oh-so delighted to have Gemini on my shelves, as I have a feeling Clara and Hailey will last in my memory for months to come. I hope you’ll consider adding it to yours.

Have a wonderful Thursday! :)


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