by Laurel Richardson (PhDSoc'62)
(Brill/Sense, 140 pages; 2019)
On her death bed, Laurel Richardson’s sister whispers a deep family secret to her. Those whispered words send the famed sociologist and author on a personal exploration of a lifetime. Lone Twin: A True Story of Loss and Found is an extraordinary story of a search for identity, wholeness, and forgiveness. Grounded in the cultures of mid-Twentieth Century Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles, Lone Twin weaves the personal with the social, cultural, and political. Richardson shares fascinating, resonant, and humorous stories about her relationships with a suicidal poet, a Swedish fencer, a budding scientist, a Puerto Rican family, a Mafia family, her Russian Jewish and Irish Catholic family, and her famous cousin, Laura Foreman. Her story is at once singular and plural. As Richardson shares her journey towards wholeness and forgiveness, readers are invited to consider their own journeys and ask: Is there something missing in my life? How do I justify my existence? Lone Twin is an exquisitely written book about identity, the search for people who understand us, and the ties that bind. This outstanding example of literary sociology can be used as supplemental reading in a range of courses in American studies, gender studies, social science, child development, and creative writing. It can be read entirely for pleasure and is a great choice for book clubs. An appendix offers discussion questions, projects, and creative writing exercises.