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Book Review: The End of the Twins by Saul Diskin

While as a rule I am not a big fan of memoirs, and even less so if the author is not of a great public interest, I have to admit that Saul Diskin’s The End of the Twins touched me deeply and kept me engrossed from the first to the last page. While the Diskin twins might not have been of particular public interest in general, they certainly held mine for the duration of the story, and I greatly admire Saul Diskin for managing to put this story on paper.

Any loss of a person close to us is devastating, and I dare not even think of losing my siblings, so the mere thought of losing a twin, your other half, is simply too much to bear.

Yet Saul Diskin lived to tell the story… and to tell it well. From the opening pages of childhood in a Jewish family in New York, with incredibly fluid descriptions of life’s minutiae there and vivid portrayals of his family, across the years of trying to find their own identities and living very diverse and distinctly different lifestyles, he paints a colorful and engaging picture of how it was being an identical twin. He did not just tell me how that felt, he made me feel it, and that is a rare achievement indeed, particularly since I am most definitely not a twin myself. Sauly and Marty, Marty and Sauly, or should it be SaulyandMartyandMartyandSauly?

While his narrative concerning their earlier life was interesting and touching, it reached new levels as soon as Marty’s tragic illness was disclosed. What followed were some of the most touching pages I’ve read in a long time, and I challenge you to read this book and not shed at least some tears.

Marty’s diagnosis of lymphocytic leukemia resulted in over two and a half decades of fighting for his life, including the bone marrow transplant in which Saul was the donor and the completely debilitating last years. And during all this time Saul knew that one of those days the unthinkable would happen – he would wake up one day and his twin will be gone.

Saul Diskin’s prose is carefully crafted and elegant, but it still maintains a raw, very personal edge to it, one that makes the reader feel his pain ever so more intensely. The End of the Twins is a wonderful, brave book – and one you will not forget any time soon.

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