Books of Note: Twin by Allen Shawn

Twin, the recently released memoir about Allen Shawn's struggle with his sister's autism has caught my eye. In today's world, public consciousness of the various forms of mental illness has awakened and society is not usually so quick to institutionalize people with these illnesses as it once was. Published by Penguin, the following description is from their site:

A heartbreaking yet deeply hopeful memoir about life as a twin in the face of autism.

When Allen Shawn and his twin sister, Mary, were two, Mary began exhibiting signs of what would be diagnosed many years later as autism. Understanding Mary and making her life a happy one appeared to be impossible for the Shawns. At the age of eight, with almost no warning, her parents sent Mary to a residential treatment center. She never lived at home again.

Fifty years later, as he probed the sources of his anxieties in Wish I Could Be There, Shawn realized that his fate was inextricably linked to his sister's, and that their natures were far from being different.

Twin highlights the difficulties American families coping with autism faced in the 1950s. Shawn also examines the secrets and family dramas as his father, William, became editor of The New Yorker. Twin reconstructs a parallel narrative for the two siblings, who experienced such divergent fates yet shared talents and proclivities. Wrenching, honest, understated, and poetic, Twin is at heart about the mystery of being inextricably bonded to someone who can never be truly understood.


Laura Fabiani on January 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM said...

I have worked with autistic children and this book has caught my interest, especially since the memoir is about a twin and 'losing' a sibling at eight years old. Must have been heart-breaking.

Marce on January 28, 2011 at 2:22 PM said...

Wow that looks totally intriguing and great, thanks for posting.

TheBookGirl on January 28, 2011 at 3:28 PM said...

I just finished reading Jodi Picoult's book House Rules, which features a young man with Asperger's syndrome, and I find it compelling. I would like to read more, and this one sounds very good. Thank you for highlighting it :)

Staci on January 28, 2011 at 8:08 PM said...

I thought this one sounded really interesting and I want to know more!

Cozy in Texas on January 28, 2011 at 10:23 PM said...

Thanks for the review. How confusing for a young child.

Sonette on January 30, 2011 at 1:35 AM said...

I must admit to not reading anything non-fiction except case law and statutes, but having recently obtained a client whose children both suffer from severe autism it has certainly opened my eyes to the harshness of this disease and how sad it really is! I will look out for this book!

Sonette @ Bookworm Blog


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