Monday, March 18, 2013

Her

I am an only child and with that, I've always been envious of people who have siblings, let alone twins. The idea of having a sibling is always something magical in my mind. I glorify it and imagine the bond they must share and am, generally, envious of what my cousins have all experienced with their siblings. Even as a child I was determined that if I became a mom I would have two children so that my child wouldn't have to suffer the fate of being an only child. Multiples are a whole other area of siblingdom that I've always been interested in and something I am sure I will never quite understand. With that, I feel single-born people may not grasp the emotional heartbreak a twin (or triplet, and so on) may feel if they lose their other half but I am going to try and review this to the best of my ability as someone without a sibling.

Her, a memoir, is emotionally exhausting. This can be a good thing; emotional books sometimes are needed to suck the reader out of the land of fiction and force them to look at reality and that sometimes very horrible things still happen. They aren't fiction, they are reality.

Cara and Christa were unexpected by their father, planned by their mother, and welcomed into a home that wasn't entirely stable enough for two little girls. Their early years consisted of being shared by their father and mother and then moving away with their mother and new stepfather who appears a little too controlling for my own comfort. They room together in college and even afterwards live close enough to one another that they can see each other often enough that they are never truly separate from one another's lives.

Christa, our author, goes back and forth between discussing her twin's downfall to memories of their past and the structure that made them who they are/were as adults. She includes poetry, diaries, letters, and anything else from their past and doesn't hold anything back. It seems that Christa wants you to understand her sister completely. To truly know her. And with that, maybe you will understand the utter destruction her twin's death caused.

After Cara is brutally raped her life begins to spiral down. A failed marriage and then a failure to keep clean leaves Cara an alcoholic and addict. Christa tries to help her sister in every conceivable way but things do not get better. The weight of Cara's addiction doesn't only affect Cara directly but Christa as well. When Christa is told that Cara was found dead from an accidental overdose, her world crumbles. Christa slowly begins to mirror her sister's end of life struggle although she time and again makes statements that she does not want to be like her sister. In her misery and mourning, Christa's life crumbles as well. Her husband leaves her and control over her life escapes her. She is a broken shell; a twinless twin. 

But slowly, Christa begins to take control of her life and live again. She learns to exist without her twin, although I am sure the hole Cara left will never be filled. 

This entire book was hard for me to get through. I, myself, am still mourning a death in my family and have been rather sensitive to the subject of death of loved ones. I understand the pain, although this level is far and beyond what I've experienced. The book doesn't have much of a positive note until the very end. Through out most of it you are being beaten by the Christa's heartbreak. For this, I approve of the book. The loss of someone, especially to something that could have been prevented, is painful. Had Christa sugar coated this experience it would have been fake and a horrible read. I struggled with the book not because it was a poor read but because it was a tough subject. This isn't a book for the faint of heart but it is something worth reading. 

For Christa, I am sorry for her loss, but thankful she has regained a reason to live and seems happy. I'm grateful that she wrote this and allowed me to take a look into a very personal time in her life. It's a book worth reading but remember that it is of a very heavy subject matter.

Note: I received this courtesy of Henry Holt & Co. I received no monetary gain from reviewing this book.

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