Synopses & Reviews
Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, gifted and beautiful twin sisters Christa and Cara Parravani were able to create a private haven of splendor and amusement that they shared between themselves. They earned their way into a prestigious college, established careers as artists (a photographer and a writer, respectively), and entered young marriages. But plagued by their fathers early rejection of them and further damaged by being raped as a young woman, Cara veered into depression, drugs, and a shocking early death.
Some time after Cara was gone, Christa read that when an identical twin dies, regardless of the cause, fifty percent of the time the surviving twin dies within two years. By then, that shocking statistic rang all too true. “Flip a coin,” she had come to think. “Those are my chances of survival.” While at first Christa had fought to stop Caras downward spiral, after her sisters death she suddenly found herself struggling to survive her own.
“Parravani delicately probes the fragile, intimate boundaries among love, identity and loss.”
—Kirkus Reviews Alice Elliot Dark
“The best memoirs should come with a warning label, the kind that makes you take a deep breath before you open the cover. Her
announces its challenges immediately while also establishing the voice that will pull you through the darkness of loss, memory and expiation. Suddenly bereft, twinless, distrusting the talent that has been her mainstay . . . Christa Parravani carries us with her into the excavation of what it means to be a survivor, a lost twin and a woman digging herself out of her sister’s loss. That she comes out the other side is never predictable—merely miraculous.”
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina Dorothy Allison
“Christa Parravani writes with extraordinary emotional honesty. . . . The scenes between the sisters in this book are breathtaking. And Christa’s difficulty looking in the mirror after the death of her identical twin becomes the reader’s desire to see him- or herself, and the world, more sensitively. A fine and rare book.”
—Alice Elliott Dark, author of In the Gloaming and Think of England Alice Elliot Dark
ranks with the best American memoirs of the decade. . . . An uncompromising love poem to the joys and dangers of shared identity and an unforgettable treatise on addiction, trauma, survival, and triumph.”
—Jayne Anne Phillips, author of Lark and Termite and Machine Dreams Jayne Anne Phillips
“Deeply thoughtful, lyrical, even magical. . . . There is rarely much redemption in losing the people we love, but Parravani transforms her pain into true beauty on the page.”
—Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity Kerry Cohen
"I couldn't stop . . . wondering what it would be like to be as close to another person as these sisters were to each other. An intense . . . journey, an inspiring book."
--Julie Metz, author of The New York Times bestseller Perfection Julie Metz
“Out of a maelstrom of love, loss, and grief comes this beautiful clear-eyed memoir, one that reveals the power and peril of twinhood even as it explores ideas that affect us all: Why are we drawn to what may destroy us? What makes us hurt the ones we love? And when we experience tragedy, how do we keep grief from eating us alive? With a photographer’s sharp eye and a gifted writer’s penetrating insight, Parravani writes about being torn apart and then about piecing her life back together, brilliantly illuminating along the way what it means to be a sister, a daughter, a wife, an artist, and—ultimately, and triumphantly—herself.”
—Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge Julie Orringer
“Parravanis prose paints her phoenix-like transformation such that the reader feels the flames of her life. . . . Raw and unstoppable, Her illuminates the triumph of the human spirit—both individual and shared.”
—Booklist [HC starred review] Publishers Weekly
“Raw, feverish, and often harshly beautiful.”
—Entertainment Weekly BookPage
“A finely wrought achievement of grace, emotional honesty, and self-possession.”
—Publishers Weekly The Bookwatch
“Parranvanis self-assured, unflinching writing belies her status as novice author. She writes candidly about life before and after her twins death.”
“Powerful memoir that comes to life in audio and deserves to be in any audio library.”
“It had me in nonstop tears.”
In this haunting memoir of identity and love, photographer Parravani deconstructs the intense bonds between identical twins, as she struggles with the trauma of her charismatic sister's self-destruction, and an unexpectedly rising tide of similar self-destruction in herself.
About the Author
CHRISTA PARRAVANI was born in Albany, New York and grew up on the Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband Anthony Swofford and their young daughter Josephine. Christa is an MFA graduate of Rutgers Newark. Christa is also an internationally exhibited photographer and two-time MacDowell fellow. She has taught at UMass Amherst, Dartmouth College and SUNY Purchase. She is represented by Foley Gallery in NYC and Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles.