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Her [Paperback]

Christa Parravani
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: 9.63 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Picador USA (25 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250044391
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250044396
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Would recommend. A rewarding read 29 July 2014
By Noah
Bought this memoir for my wife, but read it before she did after hearing the writer interviewed by Richard Bacon. Gender isn't an issue. Book is written engagingly and in its own style - which is original, not predictable. I'm an only child, my wife has two siblings. Each of us brought a different perspective - not that of a twin - and each of us read with interest and a commitment that Ms Parravini engenders. Surprised there aren't more reviews. Would recommend. A rewarding read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heart warming memoirs 9 Jun 2013
By mimi88
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I first saw this book in the sunday times magazine, so got on Amazon to order it as was intrigued by it. (I have not read all of the book entirely yet) what I have read up to- it is a very heart warming, true story of a surviving twin that goes through mixtures of emotions, and deals with the loss of her sister and has to come to terms with living her life without her. It seems very real and raw and I am enjoying the book, it is an interesting book to read and a different take on twins.

Mimi88 xx
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3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read 12 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being a twin myself, I did find the relationship dynamics quite interesting in Her, but did feel the depth of story was a bit predictable. Moving in places but not the page turner I was hoping for.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  187 reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Losing A Second Self 4 Feb 2013
By Someone Else - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
HER is a tragic story of identical twins torn apart first by a rape and then by death. This is a surprisingly intimate memoir. Christa Parravani isn't keeping many secrets, and the line between herself and her sister Cara is almost nonexistent. She shares deeply personal information about both of them in equal measures. Excerpts from Cara's private writings are scattered throughout the book, including her written account of the rape that destroyed her.

The author's twin sister Cara was a vivacious, mischievous, confident young woman. She expected good things to happen to her, so much so that when she entered the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, she tied balloons to their mailbox so Ed McMahon would be able to find their house when she won. Everything changed for Cara in her early twenties, when she was raped in such a hideous way that she lost her former self completely. She turned to drug abuse and other risky behaviors, and died five years later from an accidental overdose.

Having an identical twin is about as close as you can get to having a second self. Christa and Cara were even closer than most identical twins. They slept back to back in the same bed all through childhood, roomed together in college, and even invaded each other's marriages with a sort of jealous possessiveness. When Christa lost Cara, she could not tolerate being twinless. She set off on a self-destructive path similar to Cara's, starving herself down to 85 lbs. and becoming addicted to pills.

There's not a lot of joy here, but Christa Parravani's writing is remarkably clear-eyed and balanced. She shares the depths of her despair and self-abuse without straying into melodrama or assigning blame. Writing became Christa's road back to a healthy and productive life, as well as a way to stay connected to her lost sister. She says of her writing:

"It did what time and therapy and lovers never could. I knew that to write I must have a clear mind. And because writing was the only way to be with Cara, to move again in tandem, writing won hands down over my crazy grief."

I read a lot of memoirs, but this is the first one I've read that helped me understand what it's like to be an identical twin, and even more revealing, what it's like to lose the only person who shares all of your memories since birth. The loss is like suddenly becoming half a person, and Christa had to redefine who she was without that other half. She's a courageous and talented writer, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Christa took a series of photographs of herself and Cara, many of which are described in the book. You can view twenty of these photographs online if you do a google search for "christa parravani kindred". (I attempted to provide a web address within my review, but the Amazon system would not accept it.)
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Searing, brilliantly told, and not for the squeamish 3 Feb 2013
By Trudie Barreras - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Once again I find myself struggling with the "star" rating system required for these reviews. It is a very similar problem to the thumbs up "like" system used on Facebook. When something posted is very important but very grim, to say "like" seems rather inappropriate. Christa Parravani's searing memoir focused on the brutal rape, subsequent personality dissolution and drug addiction, and eventual death of her twin Cara is heart rending to begin with. Christa's near self-destruction in the aftermath is even more so. This story is brilliantly told and completely absorbing, but not for the squeamish. It is also horrifying to contemplate the types of abuse, both in the childhood and subsequent adult lives of Cara and Christa, which set the stage for the tragedies they experienced and their reactions to these events.

I only occasionally comment on the cover design of books, because in general I don't believe they really reflect the content effectively. However, since the cover here is in fact one of Christa's own photographs of herself and Cara, I find it brilliant and powerful. It causes me to wish that perhaps there were a few more of these images included in the text itself. Still, Christa's word images are as sharp and vivid as her photography must be.

Some parts of the story seemed to me to be disoriented and confusing, but I decided that this was probably an honest representation of the author's mental state at the time. It is likely a reflection of my own perspective that I was concerned about such things as the sequencing of various overseas trips and hospitalizations, or the encounters with various boyfriends or lovers.

In any event, this is a book that I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read. Although I have not lost a twin, I experienced the death of my own sister, and then my elder son, within a four-month period at the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993. Both of these deaths were clearly accidental, but were unnecessary, and the circumstances made them very difficult to cope with. Hence I felt a strong resonance with Parravani's struggles. I am blessed that my own marital relationship and the community of faith to which I belong made it possible to deal with those losses with less dislocation than Parravani experienced, but I found myself deeply moved and could only respond with utter delight when she finally came out at the end of the tunnel with the birth of her daughter.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Tale 1 Feb 2013
By Busy Mom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have identical twin boys and I will confess I find anything that has to do with twins, especially a book from their point of view, interesting. This book is not what I expected and it is more than what I expected. This is an intimate look at one twin's survival after losing her twin, her other half after her death.

The first part of the book deals with their growing up, their parents' marriage and Christa's comparing of themselves, whereas Cara is always the bigger twin, the prettier twin and so on. The two sisters' lives are entwined even after their marriage. All it took was one afternoon where their lives spiraled out of control. That leads into the second part of the book where Christa writes of fierce honesty about the trauma, the confusion and of the darkness that has invaded their lives.

Throughout the entire book, Christa writes honestly and sometimes, with a brutal intensity of what it was like not just to be a twin, but being a sister lost in the whirlwind of grief. It is not an easy read and it is hard book to read without flinching. Christa writes of twinship and finding herself in the aftermath in such a way that you can just feel her pain, her confusion and the grief. It is as if she had to write to get through to the basic lesson we humans all have had to learn ... survive in order to live.

Did I learn more about what it is like to be a twin? Not any more than I have read in other books and not any more than what I have observed with my sons. However, I did learn that there are some writers out there that just cannot be contained among pages. This is one talent that I would like to see more of.

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The destruction of a life - at the hands of a rapist 7 Mar 2013
By amazonbuyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Cara Parravani was living a relatively happy life. She was newly married and enjoyed a close and healthy relationship with her twin sister Christa. This all changed after she was brutally raped by Edgar Hernandez. After the rape, Cara told her twin that she now knew what it was to be a woman. Christa said that Hernandez "untwinned" them.

Cara sought escape and solace in drugs, finally narrowing her focus down to the drug choice for those who don't want to live. She'd told Christa that she saw herself die during the rape, but surprisingly heroin helped Cara to have some semblance of living. In the end, the heroin that took the edge off the pain took her life. This is the point at which Christa's life spun out of control. Christa was the steadier, less needy person, but nonetheless needed her sister. Cara's loss submerged her in grief and dysfunctional behavior, but over time she regained her balance.

Christa is an excellent writer and "Her" is a compelling memoir. But what I am left with in the end is a revulsion with the casual and cavalier attitude with which one person destroyed another person's life in order to meet his twisted needs. I am brought back to Atticus saying that rape is, "by force and without consent." The legal terms are very cerebral, but the aftermath is anything but cerebral. Over and over again these thoughts came to me as I read the book. It is my reminder. It is any woman's reminder and a reminder for any father, brother, and man who loves a woman. Guard yourself and the ones you love. Be aware and teach your daughters that being safe is better than "being nice." It is a reminder for parents of sons. It is a reminder for lawmakers. Cara was raped on October 18, 2001 at 3:30 in the afternoon. Hernandez had a convictions for "domestic assault and battery, assault and battery on a police officer, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon." (AP Oct 3, 2003). The AP also reported that between 1993 and 2000 no less than six women had taken out restraining orders against Hernandez. If only...if only...

I am glad I journeyed with Christa as she came to terms with a life without Cara and I recommend this book to anyone who wants a glimpse behind the veil of twin-hood and also anyone who is willing to brave the insanity to which rape can bring a whole person. Cara was a brave young lady, and Christa is too.
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 12 Mar 2013
By Jen82 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Her" seemed to have a lot of potential as a dark but interesting memoir of twins and loss but it fell very short for me. I give the author credit for writing about a very hard subject and it's great to hear that writing this book helped her come to terms with her sister's death but I found the story very hard to connect to. As another reviewer mentioned, it's hard to like either sister and really be invested in the outcome of their stories. I don't feel like the reader gets to really know either girl as the story seems to be scattered and jumps around a lot. The other people in the girls' lives really aren't explained-it would have been interesting to hear how they got to the point they were in life before Cara was raped, but the readers are suddenly introduced to the twins' husbands and really not given any details into their relationships. I would have liked to read about their relationship with their father as they became adults and how their relationship with him impacted their lives. I enjoyed reading the stories that described their youth and gave us insight to their lives but after a certain point the book seemed to get bogged down and dragged on with descriptions of the imagery that surrounded everything they did. I found myself skipping a lot of pages and read the story in two days just to see if it ever got better. Bits and pieces of the girls' lives were revealed toward the second half of the story that would have been interesting to hear more about, such as the girls having sex at a very young age and one of them having an abortion. More of their lives pre-rape would have really added to the story and help explain how they were before Cara got into drugs. The feeling I got from this book was that the rape wasn't the only thing that turned their lives upside down-both girls seemed to have somewhat dramatic lives pre-rape.

I found it hard to keep up with what state they were living in. They jumped from upstate NY to NYC to MA, NH...it was hard to keep track up. I also wondered what both girls did to support themselves and how they afforded to travel so much. Christa's husband was able to visit her once a month in Spain and Cara was flying to Spain frequently to visit Christa and stock up on pills-how was that possible? Details like this would have really added to the story considering they seeemed to grow up living a very financially modest lifestyle and their jobs as adults didn't seem to support their lifestyle. When Christa checked herself into the mental hospital in White Plains (I actually live in White Plains so I know what state it was in but other readers might have been left wondering where she ended up) there was no mention of what happened to the job she had in NH...did she just never go back after getting out? This book left me with more questions than answers and I feel like there were no elements or parts of the story that really grabbed me, pulled me in and made me feel connected to the characters in this story.
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