"Surviving Sam" by Karen Rivers (Polestar, 2001) is my altime favorite on my copious list of books about twins or twinloss. (99% of those are children's or young adult's books, but I will discuss some scientific works, too.)
Three years after the death of her twin-brother Sam 17-year old Pagan has survived eight attempts to kill herself and worked out numerous shrinks. They call her depressed, but following Rivers' description Pagan is suffering rather from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder than depression.
Sam was killed in an avalanche on a snow-shoe trip the twins did with their father and uncle for their fourteenth birthday. He fell down a cliff and to this very day Pagan can feel the rope that connected them on the trip slackening after her brother's fall. How is anyone supposed to understand what happened to her? How can she understand it herself? She was severely wounded in the accident, too, but her body has healed and she is the able athlete she used to be, member of the swimming and the volley-ball team. Her soul hasn't healed. Pagan has dumped all her former friends, withdrawn from everyone and almost everything. Sam's death has ripped her soul and the wound is slow in the healing.
But heal it does, partly, almost without noticing by either Pagan or the reader.
Rivers describes Pagan's way into a new identity with meticulous clarity, but always one step after the other, never giving an overview for the reader from the perspective of an all-knowing author. Consequently, the book is written in present tense. The reader walks with Pagan when she collapses on her way to school, when she detects she still likes to ride her bike and goes farther and farther on it just to move around in life, when she meets handsome Joe, the cop, or tries to re-discover her friendship with Dan, her brother's friend, who has problems of his own. As reader I see through Pagans eyes and what she sees makes perfect sense to me.
I own two copies of this book. One to write in, underline sentences, mark whole passages with neon-pink textmarker. Another one, virginally white, just for reading. This book flicks on the raw for a twinless twin, especially when the twin was killed in an accident, and I wouldn't recommend it to every one. It's liable to re-open wounds scars have already covered.
But I myself tend to carry it with me a lot. For in this book I see much of what I experienced myself put into words. There are many comments in my "write-in copy" that run just !!!!!.
I have no idea how Rivers came by her ideas for this novel. If anyone knows, please, share here. It is not a soothing book, its healing powers. if it has any, lie in the expressing of an otherwise too often inexpressible pain and as such I cherish it a lot.