Wall Street Journal, "Favorite Books of the Year 2013"
Cosmopolitan, "Best Books of the Year for Women"
Library Journal, "Best Books of 2013"
Salon, "Best Books of 2013"
"Haunting... more than a beautifully written memoir. [A] powerful and raw love letter."—The Washington Post
A blazingly passionate memoir of identity and love: when a charismatic and troubled young woman dies tragically, her identical twin must struggle to survive
Christa Parravani and her identical twin, Cara, were linked by a bond that went beyond siblinghood, beyond sisterhood, beyond friendship. Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, the gifted and beautiful twins were able to create a private haven of splendor and merriment between themselves and then earn their way to a prestigious college and to careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively) and to young marriages. But, haunted by childhood experiences with father figures and further damaged by being raped as a young adult, Cara veered off the path to robust work and life and in to depression, drugs and a shocking early death.
A few years after Cara was gone, Christa read that when an identical twin dies, regardless of the cause, 50 percent of the time the surviving twin dies within two years; and this shocking statistic rang true to her. "Flip a coin," she thought," those were my chances of survival." First, Christa fought to stop her sister's downward spiral; suddenly, she was struggling to keep herself alive.
Beautifully written, mesmerizingly rich and true, Christa Parravani's account of being left, one half of a whole, and of her desperate, ultimately triumphant struggle for survival is informative, heart-wrenching and unforgettably beautiful.
A photographer and identical twin tells the intimately delineated, raw story of her beloved sister's overdose on heroin and untimely death at age 28 in 2006. Emotionally attuned and protectively close to each other since growing up in Schenectady to parents in a rocky marriage before their strong-willed mother essentially raised them on her own, Parravani and her sister, Cara, were obsessed with the other for much of their lives: critical of their shared but subtly different looks; jealous of the other's boyfriends, then husbands; and certain that the twins would die somehow together. In her mid-20s Cara was violently raped in the woods near her Holyoke, Mass., home, and spiraled into drug abuse (e.g., prescription drugs, heroin) from what was eventually diagnosed as "post-traumatic stress disorder with borderline features." Her self-destruction imposed an enormous toll on the author, who felt responsible for her sister and riddled by guilt: "I feel like her life is in my hands," Parravani said to her then-husband. In between Cara's stays in rehab and mental hospitals, the author took numerous photographs of her sister and herself together as part of her growing artistic and teaching oeuvre, and in acutely observed passages (also alternating with Cara's diary entries), the author describes her eerie attempts to create for the camera identical likenesses. Cara's death sent the author into her own drug-induced death wish, before she pulled back from the brink; her memoir is a finely wrought achievement of grace, emotional honesty, and self-possession.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Easy read keeps you interested recommend it
A hard read but worth it
I’ve been told more than once that my own book (A Series of Events), is a hard read. I didn’t understand what that meant until I read Her. This book is intensely written, giving the reader very little relief from one tragic moment to the next. With that being said, I’m simply a reader and not someone such as Christa that had to endure the types of physical and mental anguish that she so painstakingly describes in her story. I have the utmost respect for Christa and applaud her courage for sharing her journey. I hope that she finds peace and is able to move forward happily through her life.
This book is absolutely beautiful.
I loved every word. Just what I needed.