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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, plagued by their father's early rejection of them 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. When an identical twin dies, regardless of the cause, 50 percent of the time, the surviving twin dies within two years: "Flip a coin," Christa writes of life after Cara, "those were my chances of survival." First, Christa fought to keep her sister alive; then she struggled to keep from drowning in her loss. 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.
Christa Parravani is a writer and photographer. Her photographs have been exhibited internationally, and are represented by the Michael Foley Gallery in New York City and the Kopeikin gallery in Los Angeles. She has taught photography at Dartmouth College, Columbia University and UMass, Amherst. She earned her MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers Newark. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the writer Anthony Swofford (Jarhead) and their daughter.
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"Christa Parravani's lyrical, no-nonsense Her ranks with the best American memoirs of the decade. This incandescent story of loving and losing one's twin is 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
"Christa Parravani writes with extraordinary emotional honesty about being a twin and losing that beloved other self, and with equally remarkable candor about being an artist and about marriage, grief and much more. I have never read a book that so directly engaged the perils and exaltations of being a female. 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