“I can take my experience… and let it break me like it broke my sister, or I can release it with faith that someone hears. Writers tell.”
Christa Parravani is the author of Her: A Memoir and the forthcoming Loved and Wanted: A Memoir of Choice, Children, and Womanhood.
Her, which Vanity Fair called “astonishing,” shares Parravani’s journey through grief after the sudden loss of her identical twin sister. Raised up from poverty by a determined single mother, the gifted and beautiful twins Cara and Christa shielded each other from family violence and loss with playfulness and creativity. But after Cara fell victim to a shocking act of brutality, she became unable to keep her demons at bay, veering into depression, addiction and an abrupt early death. Research into bereavement after the loss of a twin indicates that twins feel the loss of their sibling more severely than any other loss, and regardless of the cause 50 percent of the time the surviving twin dies within two years; and this shocking statistic rang true to her. “Flip a coin,” she thought,” those were my chances of survival.”
“Her invites obsessional reader behavior because Parravani has the ability to make life, even at its worst, feel magic-tinged and vital and lived all the way down to the bone.”
Parravani’s lyrical, honest memoir is an incandescent story of loving and losing one’s twin, an uncompromising love poem to the joys and dangers of shared identity, and an unforgettable tale of trauma, survival, and triumph. Her was named the Amazon Debut Spotlight Pick, an Amazon Best Book of the month, an Indie Bound Next Pick, a Books for a Better Life nominee, an NPR critics pick and both an Oprah and People Magazine must-read memoir. In a starred review Booklist called Her “raw and unstoppable… a triumph of the human spirit.”
Loved and Wanted, Parravani’s second memoir, chronicles her experiences attempting to access legal abortion. In 2017, when Parravani was forty years old and recently relocated with her family to Morgantown, West Virginia, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant. Surviving on a teacher’s salary and raising two young children with her husband was cause for alarm, and not only for the financial strain: she had a history of ectopic pregnancies, and worried that she wouldn’t be able to find the medical care she’d need in case of emergency. She immediately requested an abortion, but though she was only six weeks along her doctor said he couldn’t help. Denied access to the legal abortion she had requested and against her own instincts as a mother and woman with supposed agency over her body, Parravani gave birth to her son though his significant medical complications went undiagnosed, denied, and ignored in a state with one of the highest infant and child mortality rates. Expanding on her essay, “Life and Death in West Virginia”, about these harrowing experience with healthcare under the Trump Administration, Loved and Wanted is part memoir, part call to arms that Entertainment Weekly called “Achingly personal… [Parravani reveals] the ways in which the American health care system denies women agency over their own bodies and their children’s futures.”
Parravani’s writing has appeared in Guernica, Catapult, Hobart, Marie Claire, Glamour, The Washington Post, Salon, The Rumpus, The Daily Beast, The London Times, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, and DAME, among other places. She has been featured in Poets and Writers, Vogue, on NPR’s All Things Considered, and To The Best of Our Knowledge, and on PBS’s Well Read, among many other magazines, network television programs, and public radio programs. She is at work on a nonfiction book about the troubled marriage of a young CIA case officer struggling with the terror of an abusive husband while fighting the global war on terror during the bin Laden years.
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