“Twins,” written by Varian Johnson and illustrated by Shannon Wright, is a must-read graphic novel for anyone looking for a heart-felt tale of sisters and self-confidence.
“Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran -- a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!
Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there's nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?”
The story is told from the perspective of Maureen, who is classified as the “thinker” while Francine is the “talker.” This is evident in the girls’ characterizations; as discussed in the synopsis, Francine begins to grow apart from her twin to try and become her own person instead of being seen as interchangeable with Maureen. She is extroverted, and Maureen once describes Fran as being “able to make friends with a rock.” Marueen, however, is the exact opposite. She’s incredibly smart, but also exceedingly introverted. The main conflict of the story resides in how Maureen has “low self-confidence” and uses her sister as a crutch for her social interactions.
“Twins” is a great example of genuine character interactions and character development. This is most impactful when Maureen and Francine interact, and especially when they argue. The sadness, anger, love, and making things way too personal seems to draw directly from the Varian Johnson’s own experience, because he also has an identical twin. This makes everything much more real, and everytime I read “Twins,” I feel like I’m in the room with the sisters as they bicker. Furthermore, through their dialogue and acting, you can actually tell that the sisters develop more self-confidence as the story goes on. Additionally, the art is great. The pacing and shot compositions lead the reader through the page and never leave them bored. The cartooning is incredibly engaging, and Johnson’s great writing is elevated even more with Wright’s illustrations.
Overall, for anyone interested in pursuing middle grade graphic novels as a career, “Twins” is a necessary reference to add to your bookshelf.