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What would have made Twin better?
There were things I liked and disliked about Twin. I got off to a rough start with Twin. Part of that results from misguided expectations of the book on my part. I had never heard of Allen Shawn and only chose this book as it was a memoir about someone and their institutionalized autistic twin. As an autism mom, it was the twin herself who interested me and I was expecting a portrait of that person's life which intrigued me since I knew she was in her 60's so autism was handled much differently back then. The very word institution brings certain types of things to mind, none of which you will find in this book. The book is basically upbeat and positive about both autism and institutionalization I had trouble getting into that and the narrator's happy go lucky style. We don't actually learn a whole lot about Mary Shawn, and to be fair, Allen doesn't claim in the book to know a whole lot about her either. And it is good that her early institutionalization was apparently a pleasant home on the beach in Cape Cod. But the book was more about Allen Shawn. There are long passages where he talks about music (since he is a composer). I however am not interested in music so those parts were a struggle for me. His stories about the rest of his family - like his famous father and the tensions in his parents marriage, did turn out to be interesting but again not really what I meant to read. Also since I read a lot of books wherein autism plays some role, I have to say I was taken aback to find one in which the author speaks out positively about Bruno Bettleheim, (the "Refrigerator Mother" guy). So I am not saying it was a bad book, just perhaps not the one for me.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
This was an excellent exploration of the phenomenon of being a twin, and a twin of someone with a disability. Although this family is part of the cultural elite, outside the "norm" in economic resources and intellectual achievement, I still found the story relatable.
However, the shorter format gave a synoptic feeling to the discussion of many issues and I found myself wishing for more detail.
I also found the author's blind acceptance of his father's "two wives" a bit too tolerant and/or pc, for lack of better words, and - not in the book - he actually bristled during a radio interview when the interviewer called his father's outside relationship an "affair". Oh no, it was way more than that blah blah. And perhaps this family viewed itself as outside and somehow above regular society so that the rules did not apply, and thus I question this man's defense of his father's lifestyle.
The narrator reads it all too fast - enough to give even the reader an anxiety attack.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful