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Hardcover The Silent Twins Book

ISBN: 0138102767

ISBN13: 9780138102760

The Silent Twins

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

*Best Available: (missing dust jacket)

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Book Overview

This is the astonishing tale of June and Jennifer Gibbons, identical twins whose silent, antisocial exterior hid a rich, vast, creative life. From early childhood through their twenties, they spoke only to each other in a secret langauge, building an elaborate fantasy life. Then, from their self-imposed isolation, they were catapulted into the hormonal havoc of adolescence, plunging into a wild spree that led to their incarceration in a hospital for...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings


This book to me was really weird. I didn't really like it.

Silent mystery

Saw movie version of Marjorie Wallace's book several years ago on A & E - so intrigued by the gothic horror enveloping the lives of these twins - as children and in later adulthood. I then bought the book, twice. One tragedy followed another - Hilton Als in the New Yorker magazine wrote an article about one of them- (the other had died on a bus after being released from England's Broadmoor prison) A gripping, unresolved tale of West Indian twins who bumbled thru their lives - communicating only with each other, writing novels and short stories in a small room- closeting themselves against family (downstairs) and the world outside. A must read. . .The Silent Twins

The Problem is Not so Mysterious

Everyone who read this book wondered what was wrong with June and Jennifer Gibbons. Some said it was typical twin-symbiosis. Others figured the girls were schizophrenic. But after teaching Special Ed for a few years, I think I've figured out the problem. June and Jennifer Gibbons were most likely Autistic or had Asperger's Syndrome. That would have made it difficult to communicate with people and understand the norms (very common among kids with Asperger's or ADHD). It's not unusual for twins to be late talkers, and twins often speak to each other in their own funny language. But the biggest problem they had was their family! In all cultures, families deal with their children differently. They warn teachers nowadays to take the student's background into account when working on his/her skills, because the student's parents may have expectations you're not accustomed to. The parents of June and Jennifer Gibbons were from the West Indies, where (as stated in the book) people expect eccentric behavior from twins. But their father had no interest in his children. It wasn't unusual for West Indian men to be a bit stiff and stoic, but Aubrey Gibbons was unbelievably stiff. There was no "family dynamic" in the household. The father would come home from work, eat dinner by himself, and watch TV. It was his policy not to speak to his children. That kept these twins, who already had problems, from learning social skills. The surviving twin, June, claims that race as the problem, and I believe her. Though not mentioned in the narrative, they were bullied by their classmates for being the only Black children in the school (and possibly in the whole of Wales at the time). They were always ostracized, and couldn't turn to their mother or father for support or guidance. Coupled with an inability to communicate, they had no one to turn to but each other. One trait of Asperger's that these girls had was their assertiveness in writing. I have encountered many autistic people who cannot or will not assert themselves verbally, but are very assertive in what they write. The Gibbons twins spent hours in their rooms, writing novels with hilarious word choices. Some of their novels may in fact be in print today. But their talent was ignored. Their family had no interest in them whatsoever. Their siblings all turned out okay, however. June recounted how all her siblings were married to white people, so they couldn't all have suffered from racism the way June says they did. Having Asperger's, along with an uninterested parent, was the biggest part of the problem. Another question is how Jennifer Gibbons died. Some say she willed her own death, but I think her heart simply weakened from lethargy, caused by spending all those years on antipsychotic medications.

A Twin Tragedy

I recently read this book, having started it several years ago and found that it so distrubed me that the lives these young women seemed to be so expendable, I could not finish reading their story. I recently picked up the book again and this time I finished it. I still feel that the world let June and Jennifer Gibbons down. I especially feel that their parents failed them. But placing blame is not helpful, is it? I found Marjorie Wallace's research admirable, but not nearly as in-depth as it could have been, especially in delving into the family dynamics outside of the twins themselves. It is hard for me to believe, as a mother of four sons, two of whom are fraternal twins, that these girls were left to their own devices for so long or that they held the entire household in their grip. All with the seeming acquiecence of traditional West Indian parents and a military dad to boot!!??? Baffling! I think Wallace could have shed some needed light on their story if she had looked at this side of the family closer.I was moved by some of the twins' journal entries, able to gain incredible intimacy into their minds, their world. I think we all are facinated by the secret lives and languages of twins, how they seem to have a bond that transends mere sibling connections. In other entries chosen by Wallace, I felt that she was guilty of one of the most freshman of journalistic flaws: inserting yourself and your opinions into your story. At times I felt she manipulated their words and pain to move her story along. I think this was a dis-service.Both sisters, in my opinion were brilliant, creative, visual, and incredibly insightful observers of human behavior, strengths and weaknesses. But in the end, because society--starting with their own family's desire to 'fit in' with the white 'Proper British' world-- and ending ultimately with the failure of the English educational, mental health care and judicial systems to deal with these girls--sadly, it is painfully obvious that race played a role in the tragedy that was the Gibbons Twins' lives.Wallace herself alludes to the failure and selective ignorance of authorities through the years and the overall treatment of the girls because they were 'coloured'. And these perceptive young women on numerous occasions recognized and manipulated others' prejudices in order to attempt to belong and ultimately to survive.The book has some weaknesses, but those are easily forgotten as one lives the loneliness, desolation, isolation and despair right along with June and Jennifer Gibbons. I found myself silently screaming along with June and Jennifer that someone, anyone would save them from each other.I truly think that these were wasted lives; lives that did not have to be lost to such pain, violence, abuse and neglect. After I finished the book I was left with a haunting need to know what became of the two sisters. I did a Google search and I cried as I read that just hours after being released from Broadmoor, Jennifer had

"Vulnerable as flowers in hell"

The author means well, but I think the girls might have been better served simply by reprinting relevant entries from the voluminous diaries, with a minimum of commentary. As other reviewers have pointed out, Wallace seems quite confused by the girls and her narrative lacks important details as a result.June and Jennifer stayed in Broadmoor hospital until 1993, when they were to be remanded to a more appropriate facility. Originally, they had had an understanding that if one of them should die, the other must begin to speak normally and tell their story to the world. By the time of their release, they had come to believe that they not only needed to be physically separate, but that in order for one to live a normal life, the other would have to die.In an Observer (Guardian Unlimited) article following the deaths of the Bijani sisters, July 13, 2003, Wallace reports having tea with the Gibbons girls just before their release, at which time Jennifer informed her that she had decided to die, leaving the way open for June. Ten days later, they left Broadmoor, and Jennifer promptly leaned on June's shoulder and went unconscious. She died at 6:30 that evening. The autopsy showed a virulent inflammation of the heart. The doctors were unable to identify the source. To this day, Jennifer's death is a mystery, and June lives in their old hometown, near their parents. She revealed their complete story in an issue of Harper's magazine in late '93, with a followup called "We Two Made One", reprinted in the New Yorker for 12-4-2000. The song "Tsunami" by the Manic Street Preachers is based on their story.We should love to see "Pepsi-Cola Addict", "Discomania", "Taxi-Driver's Son" and especially "The Pugilist" published in America.

A gripping study of mentally ill twins

This book details the lives of a pair of identical twins who kept silent their entire childhood, never speaking to anyone, not even their parents. I think they may also have been schizophrenic, because I know lots of identical twins and most lead perfectly normal lives. But this book is fascinating.
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