Twin : a memoir

by Allen Shawn

Hardcover, 2011

Call number

616.85 SHA



New York : Viking, 2011.


A heartbreaking yet deeply hopeful memoir about life as a twin in the face of autismWhen Allen Shawn and his twin sister, Mary, were two years old, Mary began exhibiting signs of what would be diagnosed years later as autism. Understanding Mary and making her life a happy one appeared to be impossible for the Shawns. With almost no warning, her parents sent Mary to a residential treatment center when she was eight years old. She never lived at home again...

User reviews

LibraryThing member AuntieClio
At the age of eight, Allen Shawn's twin sister, Mary, was removed from the home and institutionalized for the rest of their lives. Eventually diagnosed with autism, Mary lives in surroundings which suit her and keep her healthy.

Shawn's exploration of what it is for him to be a twin, separated as
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they were, and his family life, including phobias, is thoughtful. Mary was always just Mary to him, and remains so. Although he understands that her autism keeps her from functioning in ways which would allow her to function in society at large, he does not judge her for that. He has always accepted her as she is.

The longing for her to fill the void left by their separation is at the heart of this exploration. As heart-felt as his previous book, Wish I Could be There, Allen Shawn shares his journey with those who care to listen.
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LibraryThing member cdeuker
Book describes Allen Shawn's relationship with his developmentally disable twin sister, Mary. Mary was taken out of the Shawn household as an eight-year old. Allen Shawn does a great job of describing how this close, but then sundered, relationship affected his life. Mary went to a school until she
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was 18, and then to a home afterward. He wonders, for example, what would have happened to her had the "schooling" continued. What would have been best for Mary? What is best for all the Mary's of the world? No easy answers, and Allen Shawn just gives his gentle description of his own thoughts. Along the way we learn about his interesting family. Wallace Shawn (My Dinner with Andre) is his brother. Allen is a composer first, writer second. Allen's father was the editor of the New Yorker. Allen's father also maintained two distinct households, a fact Allen discovered late in his life. Interesting book, well worth reading.
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LibraryThing member sunnydrk
The writer takes a trip down memory lane discussing life without his twin, who was sent to an institution at a young age. To me, a memoir should be filled with emotion and Twin is very clinical and without emotion. Add to that the fact that the author is all over the place in his timeline and you
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have a book that is just not enjoyable to read.
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