Her: Book summary and reviews of Her by Christa Parravani

Her

A Memoir

By Christa Parravani

Her
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2013,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] memoir is a finely wrought achievement of grace, emotional honesty, and self-possession." - Publishers Weekly

"Parravani delicately probes the fragile, intimate boundaries among love, identity and loss." - Kirkus Reviews

"Christa Parravani powerfully transforms her anguish over the traumatic death of her troubled identical sister into the astonishing Her." – Vanity Fair

"Full of headlong energy, Christa Parravani's Her is reckless yet delicate, familiar yet otherworldly, precise yet with the soul of a fairytale, and deeply moving in surprising ways." - Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and The Ticking is the Bomb

"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." - Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

"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?" - Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge

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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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