Much like celebrated author Caroline Knapp’s Pack of Two, With and Without Her demands that we inspect our inner selves, fears, identity. Who are we? With identical twins, the question resounds even louder; who am I without HER, who is she without ME, who are we singly and together? For identical twins are one.
As Foltz-Gray passions us into our own biggest fears – am I enough on my own, did I get enough, can I exist without the other, can I hold, get through the loss of MYSELF – we live through With and Without Her as does Foltz-Gray.
For Dorothy, whose identical twin Deanne is murdered at 31, the answer has eluded her – for how do you separate from one egg, one womb, two people who are indelibly ONE?
As Dorothy spins through the landscape of her two lives – 31 years as an identical twin and over 30 years as a singleton, she touches on the mysteries of her own sense of self, that elusive sense of identity that we all experience, that separation into a person, that growing from child to adult that many of us simply never attain. And for Dorothy perhaps it is harder: she and Deanne were so symbiotically attached and presciently inseparable, that her life scatters when Deanne is murdered.
With breathtaking honestly, Dorothy details the journey of taking in the murder of a sibling and the brutality of feeling that evokes. For Dorothy not only loses her part-self, Deanne, but she loses her entire family. She cannot relate to her father, mother or brother Jeff as she and Deanne have always lived in a sphere of each other, as one.
Dorothy Foltz-Gray illuminates the caul we place upon grief; the non-intimacy of families that have been torn apart; the instant and guttural intimacy of identicals. Yet this is more a story of Dorothy herself than Deanne and Dorothy, for Dorothy pulses into our own psyches: our loneliness, our despair, our inability to connect with others in a world that has scattered families and relationships of all kinds.
In a memoir that flutters as gently as a leaf to the lawn, as ferociously as a pyre rising in flames, as tenderly anguished as a last sunset, Foltz-Gray pulls us into the center of human beings – who really, are we without the Other? And how do we transcend the separateness we must endure?
Lovely, awe inspiring, we tread in Dorothy’s steps as she delineates our most basic fears as human beings, as her voyage defines our own journey, encompassing more than deep grief, loss and identity. She completes her own circle as death shatters and blinds. And Gray’s prose is as equally elegant as her ferocious and poignant story of living.
With and Without Her: A Memoir of Being and Losing a Twin is available via Amazon.com
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.