Hannibal Free Public Library

Christa Parravani

February 24, 2014

2:30 – 4:00 p.m.



1. Christa mixes in excerpts from Cara’s writings throughout the book. How did this help in your understanding of Cara and how did it affect the storytelling? In what ways is Christa’s memoir also Cara’s?

2. What makes the relationship between identical twins unique from that of just siblings, or even fraternal twins? Do you think that identical twins are biologically prone to think and feel the same way, or is it something that evolves from their inextricably knit experiences? In what ways is the relationship between Christa and Cara so special? As much as they were alike, how were they also very different?

3. Art is a significant part of the sisters’ lives. Discuss the importance of creating art for Cara and Christa. What do you think it meant for them to be able to create works of art in the midst of their tumultuous lives?

4. After Cara’s death, there were moments when Christa tried to be exactly like her sister, and also moments when she wanted to be completely free of her. Why did she assume these conflicting states of mind? Do you think that as an identical twin you can ever have your own identity?

5. Research shows that when an identical twin dies, the chances of the surviving twin also dying within two years drastically increases. Although coming very close to death, how was Christa able to survive and start a new life without her sister?

6. What is the importance of home and location in the sisters’ lives? How did their constant displacement as children affect their idea and need for a home as adults? What does “home” mean to them? What does it mean to you?

7. The book is mostly comprised of Christa’s memories of her life with her sister. Christa says that it’s  hard to tell if her memories are true without Cara; that she is “the sole historian left to record [their] lives.” Think back on the memories you have of growing up. How do we distinguish truth from mere memories? And does truth matter when it comes to your own experiences, or is it the things you take from those moments that really count?

8. Do you think the body is a mere vehicle for the person or is it a part of your whole self? Do you think it is possible to detach yourself from your body? After Cara suffered a horrific rape, how was she changed? What seems to have happened to her connection with her body? What happened to Christa’s connection to her body after Cara’s death, and how was she able to find a new connection with her body in the end?

9. What do you make of Christa’s conversation with the psychic? Do you believe in the supernatural and that we can communicate with those who have passed? Do you think that Christa’s visions of Cara were actually visits from another world, or were they illusions of dreams and grief?

Adapted from: http://www.litlovers.com/reading-guides/14-non-fiction/9154-her-a-memoir-parravani?start=3