Graphic Novel Review: Twins by Varian Johnson

twins - varian johnson review

Summary: Twins by Varian Johnson

Twins Maureen and Francine Carter have always done everything together, but things have changed as they’re starting sixth grade. For one, they have nearly all their classes apart from each other, and Francine is dressing differently, trying to stand out from her twin Maureen. Maureen has always been the quieter, introverted one — her parents call her the thinker, and Francine, the talker. So she feels a bit lost when Francine joins different clubs and extra-curricular activities, while she joins cadet training.

The girls are still figuring out their new dynamic when Francine decides to run for student council, and by some stroke of fate, her shy, terrified-of-public-speaking sister is also running for president. Despite the ground rules laid by their parents, things get a bit messy as both girls try to establish their personal identities while fighting to reconcile their relationship as twins and sisters.

The Good

This book is sooo fun, but also has soo much heart! I ADORE the illustrations, and I wanted to give Shannon Wright a big hug after reading this book. From her bio, I learned that she also illustrated the cover for Celia Perez’s Strange Birds which I also loved (book and cover). Maureen, Francine and their friends are so vivid and alive on the page. Their eyes and body language are expressive and as you go through the story, you start to figure out who’s who without too much hassle.

The issues these girls deal with aren’t childish — or exclusive to identical twins, although I see why it would be harder for identical twins. No one likes to live under another person’s shadow or feel like you’re stuck ALWAYS seen as being part of unit from birth. So my heart went out to both girls as they found for a sense of self. I did feel drawn to Maureen right away although I definitely felt Francine’s frustration as she so desperately wanted to spread her wings.

I loved the Carter family, both their parents and their stepbrother! And I enjoyed the cadet training scenes as well as the Black natural hair goodness displayed on nearly every page. Finally, yes to healthy friendships on the side of both girls, and a middle school environment without a focus on bullying.

Overall: Twins by Varian Johnson

Varian Johnson’s new graphic novel is simply a delight! I loved following Maureen and Francine — and am really hoping we get a few more books about them. I would love to follow them all the way to high school! Twins is a sensitive look at the search for identity especially common for identical twins who want to be their own person while still preserving their unbreakable bond with their closest relative and friend. This book also highlights common middle school struggles, crushes, and navigating life in a blended family, but the main theme is the joy of sisterhood. I would highly recommend it to graphic novel lovers and rookies alike — it reads beautifully on an iPad too!

Buy This Book

More Middle-Grade Books About Sisters

Have you read this book or any others by Varian Johnson? His storytelling is impeccable, I’m going on a binge starting with this book! More recs? Also any more fun graphic novel recommendations? Here’s a list of 36.

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