Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book Review: Raising Twins


Raising Twins: A Real Life Adventure by Freya Manfred

Amazon Summary:
One of every thirty babies born today is a twin--close to double the percentage of twins born just a quarter-century ago. Raising two children born on the same day presents special challenges to parents, and offers unusual rewards. In Raising Twins poet Freya Bly offers a unique perspective on the experience, based on weekly notes she kept from the time of her pregnancy until her sons, Rowan and Bly, were in college.

Raising Twins isn't a ''how to'' book, however, or a manual full of bullet points. It's a recount of twenty years of improvisation and adventure. Freya and her husband found that many theories about raising twins were cultural fairy tales inadequate to the task at hand. She describes the parenting ordeal with a poet's graphic touch--sleep deprivation, the need for superhuman energy, choosing schools, managing sibling spats honestly and diplomatically, while striving to bring out her sons latent gifts and nurture their creativity. I was far from a ''tiger mother.'' I was more like a dolphin mother, swimming beside our sons, letting two souls who happened to be born on the same day explore the depths and heights of their surroundings. Perhaps the extra energy level of twins puts a parent in the position of being an avid follower and facilitator; it takes too much energy to steer them or control them...

If you're a twin, if you know a twin, or even if you just care about parenting and the passages from infancy to adulthood, this book is for you.

A little background:
Last October my friend, Colleen, emailed to ask if I'd consider reading a book by Freya Manfred, a local Minnesota author who'd presented at a Young Authors Conference that her company organized. The book was about her twin sons, and she was looking for twins to read it and write a blurb for the cover. I was ecstatic! As you know I love reading about twins, so I said yes right away. I emailed with Freya a few times, and the book galley came to me in late December. I was given a February 1st deadline to read the book and send Freya my blurb.

January was a crazy month for me at work, but I managed to finish the book on my birthday, January 29th, on the airplane on the way to visit my mother and my twin sister in Florida for a girls' weekend. It was the first time the three of us were alone together in at least 5 years, probably longer.

I didn't know how to go about writing a blurb for a book cover, so I sent Freya a rambling email with my impressions of the book, all good. She and I even corresponded a bit throughout the weekend, and she revealed some information about the boys current lives. After reading of their upbringing, I was curious to know what they were up to. They're both artists, still living together.

My Review:
As I twin, I appreciated that Freya and her husband, Tom Pope, have such a refreshing view of twins as two individual people. A lot of parents of twins give their twins similar names and dress them alike. Freya called her twins "siblings who were the same age."

The book is such a great tribute to her sons, Rowan and Bly. As a mother of a boy, I enjoyed the chronicle of the different developmental stages of boys. It gave me some idea of what I have to look forward to in the coming years, as my son is only 5 years old.

Throughout in the book I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the boys similarities and differences. It was interesting to learn of the roles other twins play with respect to each other. There is always such fierce competition between twins. It is so hard to have someone so similar to you - sharing almost the same experiences - and to have different opportunities or difficulties face you.

The beginning of the book was so amusing at times I almost laughed out loud. The tone in which Freya recounts how naive she and Tom were is so perfect.

As an atheist (ex-Catholic/Christian), I was encouraged by her open conversations with the boys about God. I sometimes don't know what to say to my son. Her willingness to let the boys make up their own minds was a great example for me.

I also admired the open discussion of feelings in their family. And as the boys grew older it was easy to see how that benefited them.

Throughout the book I was struck by how honest Freya was. Things all parents think, she actually wrote.  This book is a great read for any parent, of twins or singletons.

My Rating: 4 Stars
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