Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: Signs of Life

Author:  Natalie Taylor

Genre:  Memoir (2011)

Descriptive Words:  Widowed and pregnant at 24, accident, single mother, tragic, witty, high school teacher, challenge, triathlon.
About: True story of Natalie, a 24-year-old, 5 months pregnant girl whose 27-year-old husband Josh dies after hitting his head while carve boarding (kind of like skateboarding).

The book covers the time of the accident and up to 16 months afterwards. She discusses a little about the actual accident and how she found out, but mostly about the funeral and after, and dealing with being a widow after only a year of marriage as well as the prospect of single motherhood. At her young age she doesn't fit into the typical grief groups for widows, and because of her recent marital status, doesn't fit into typical single mother groups. She is also a high school English teacher and talks about going back to work after the funeral and incorporates life lessons for her students from several classics such as Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Her sister "Moo" encourages her several months after Josh's death to take on the challenge of a triathlon.

Rating and Thoughts:   5/5

I don't know why I liked this book so much, but I did. Her writing is different. Mostly it's taken from her journal so it's real life, what she was thinking at the moment, rambling writing, but I could not put it down. Simply fascinating. Probably because I don't know many pregnant 24-year-olds whose husbands die, and I was enthralled with the emotional process of dealing with such a tragedy. She's also very witty and funny. Elizabeth Berg's quote on the cover, "Sit down with this book. See if you can stop after page one." is so true. Loved it.

There's only one part that made me cry, and I know those of you who can't read sad books will never read  it after this (lol):  
"Now that I'm a parent, I am beginning to understand that I have no idea what Deedee [Josh's mother] is going through in dealing with the loss of her child. Not a clue. I knew Josh for four years in college, then we dated for a year, and then we were married for a year and a half. Because I'm twenty-five years old, that seems like a lot of time. But Deedee grew him from a seed.
When Josh was in the hospital after his accident, I saw his body once, and then I had to leave. I never went back. Deedee stayed at the hospital for days. Long after he was pronounced dead, he had to stay so they could remove his working organs. She stayed by him until they wheeled him away for his final surgery. I couldn't be there because to me he was gone. That body wasn't him. But as a mom, I know why she had to stay. When you watch something grow from a seed, you have a very different relationship with it than the rest of the world does.
I know Deedee spent those days staring at his body, taking in the last images of the body she had watched for twenty-seven years. Dead or alive, that body was too special to leave in an empty hospital room. She had been by his side since the day she brought him into this world, not to mention the nine months prior to that. You better believe she would be there on the day he had to leave. Right up until the last second."
Source:  Library


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