Twin by Allen Shawn is a wonderfully written memoir about his life and that of his autistic twin sister, Mary. It provides a heartbreaking look at a family struggling to handle the challenges of an autistic child from a very young age. Sadly, though it was the common practice in the 1950′s, Mary was sent to live in a residential center, never to live with her family again. Shawn explores in considerable depth the impact this decision had on his parents, his older brother and him.
The Shawn family lived in New York City where his father was the editor of The New Yorker magazine. His family was fraught with a variety of dysfunction and challenges including marital infidelity, a handful of phobias, panic attacks and anxiety. Shawn skillfully peels back the layers of his family experience with a critical yet loving approach to reveal a family bound by love yet held at a distance from one another as a result of their sometimes shared and often disparate manifestations of fear. Much of the author’s own fears stem from his deeply-rooted fear that he, too, would be sent away like his sister.
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