A dark, edgy, voice-driven literary debut novel about twin sisters that explores body image and queerness as well as toxic diet culture and the power of sisterhood, love, and lifelong friendships, written by a talented protégé of Roxane Gay.
Rose and Lily Winters are twins, as close as the bond implies; they feel each other’s emotions, taste what the other is feeling. Like most young women, they’ve struggled with their bodies and food since childhood, and high school finds them turning to food—or not—to battle the waves of insecurity and the yearning for popularity. But their connection can be as destructive as it is supportive, a yin to yang. when Rose stops eating, Lily starts—consuming everything Rose won’t or can’t.
Within a few years, Rose is about to mark her one-year anniversary in a rehabilitation facility for anorexics. Lily, her sole visitor, is the only thing tethering her to a normal life.
But Lily is struggling, too. A kindergarten teacher, she dates abusive men, including a student’s married father, in search of the close yet complicated companionship she lost when she became separated from Rose.
When Lily joins a cult diet group led by a social media faux feminist, whose eating plan consists of consuming questionable non-caloric foods, Rose senses that Lily needs her help. With her sister’s life in jeopardy, Rose must find a way to rescue her—and perhaps, save herself.
Illuminating some of the most fraught and common issues confronting women, Thin Girls is a powerful, emotionally resonant story, beautifully told, that will keep you turning the pages to the gratifying, hopeful end.
Clarke's raw debut explores the ravages of eating disorders and extreme dieting on identical twins Rose and Lily. As the twins enter high school in the mid-2000s, Rose tries to fit in with a group of popular girls who pressure each other to commit to an apple-a-day regimen. Lily is ostracized from the group and turns to overeating while her sister starves herself. Rose, now 24, narrates from inside the walls of treatment center for eating disorders, detailing the twins' lives leading up to that point in sections headed by year, age, and weight, and highlighting Rose's growing insecurity in relation to her sister ("I was her stunt double.... People looked at me and saw almost-Lily"). After Rose is discharged and assigned to live with Lily for a probationary period, it's Rose who feels the need to offer support: Lily is in a relationship with the husband of a lifestyle guru and subjecting herself to a diet consisting of zero-calorie bars, and her life seems to be falling apart despite her excitement over her weight loss. While Clarke's prose slips occasionally into pedestrian observations, the sisters' bond is strongly palpable. This page-turner makes for an illuminating, ultimately hopeful look at the constant struggle women face regarding their body image.