Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville’s Famous Conjoined Twins by Sarah Miller. Schwartz & Wade, 2021. 9780593119723
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book? A very readable biography that goes beyond exposing life as a conjoined twin. The book really delves into the way people with disabilities were exploited during the first half of the 20th century. It was also interesting to read about vaudeville performers.
The author has done a prodigious amount of research on the twins’ early life, from their birth to an unwed mother in 1908, their adoption by the midwife who delivered them, with the intent to make money from exhibiting the girls, to their lives as performers who were basically “owned” by an unscrupulous entrepreneur. I like how the author dispassionately relates the practices of exhibiting Violet and Daisy dressed in children’s clothes up through their teens, so that readers can make their own association with the abuse that it would be considered now. Although the girls made a huge amount of money for the family who adopted them, they saw little of it, and lived a life of social deprivation. When Violet and Daisy finally were emancipated through legal proceedings at the age of 23, their life skills were dismally lacking.
The book contains an insert of 24 pages of black and white photographs, an author’s note detailing discrepancies in her sources, detailed notes, and an index. The author’s research was meticulous and thorough. Her conversational writing style makes the book an absorbing read.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Why do publishers continue to put photographs in a middle insert? Printing technology had advanced enough so that images can be near their corresponding text.
To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 12 and up.
Who should buy this book? Middle and high school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Teen biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: June 7, 2021