Book #13: Divided Minds by Pamela Spiro Wagner and Dr. Carolyn Spiro, M.D.

The other night, I was about to leave home to go to book club when my mom called. We chatted for a minute and then she said, “I’ve gotta go, I’m leaving for book club.” What? I mean, I understand that book club isn’t exactly the most stereotypical 20-something thing to do in the world, but come on! I’m going to book club on the same night, at the same time, as my mom? Goodness gracious.

My book club is brand new–my friend Hadley and I just started it, so there are only four of us. In all honesty, we talked a little bit about the book, but just a little. Mostly, we drank pumpkin beer. Can we be blamed?

This memoir is told by twin sisters about one of the twins’ struggle with schizophrenia. Pamela Wagner is the twin that has schizophrenia, and for many years, her twin sister Carolyn was her sole family connection. Their jointly-told memoir is really lovely, and it’s also terribly sad and scary. The story told by both sisters highlights the difficulties that people with mental illness face on a daily basis–medication and its side effects, lack of services and support, not to mention the illness itself. In Pamela’s case, her schizophrenia means battling delusions, hearing voices that constantly drag her down, and living in a near-constant state of psychosis.

Carolyn is, for most of the twins’ adult lives, Pamela’s only family support. However, Carolyn keeps Pamela’s illness secret from her own husband and children. She answers late night phone calls from the hospital alone, and bears the burden of her sister’s descent into psychosis alone, without help from anyone else. Their story is one of sisterhood, of a connection that cannot be undone. No matter how different the lives of the twins are, they are forever connected, interdependent, and necessary to one another.

If you read this memoir, google the twins’ names when you’re done–the book ends rather abruptly, and you can watch videos of the two speaking in the year after the book is published.


The list so far:

1. In One Person by John Irving

2. Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato

3. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

4. Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

5. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

6. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

7. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut

8. My Life in France by Julia Child

9. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

11. The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

7 thoughts on “Book #13: Divided Minds by Pamela Spiro Wagner and Dr. Carolyn Spiro, M.D.

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