Saturday, July 25, 2009

This lovely woman, this lovely book

It seems that everyone I know is reading Vicki Forman's newly-released memoir This Lovely Life. Actually, it seems that everyone I know has already read This Lovely Life. I keep hearing, from person after person, that Vicki's writing is so forcefully engaging that once they started the book, they were unable to put it down. It is that good.

This Lovely Life has had the opposite effect on me. Every time I pick it up and start reading, Vicki's writing is so forcefully engaging that it literally takes my breath away, and I need to put it down - sometimes after several pages and sometimes after just a few paragraphs.

It is that good.

In This Lovely Life, Vicki writes about giving birth to extremely premature twins, Ellie and Evan, about Ellie's death just days later, and about Evan's life with profound disabilities, which started in the NICU and ended after eight years, a year ago yesterday.

Vicki's journey and her story are entirely different from mine, but - I realize as I read - there is significant overlap in emotion, in response, in moments etched in time and impossible to reclaim. My journey to and through parenthood has involved loss and struggle, but I don't write about it much on the pages of this blog - or, frankly, anywhere else. I have neither the talent nor the courage to give words to those emotions or to that history - to give it shape - to make it real - to offer it up to the world at large and say, "See?"

But Vicki has both extraordinary talent and unshakable bravery, and This Lovely Life is infused with both. It is remarkable writing from a remarkable woman, and it is not to be missed.

I usually wait until I've finished reading a book to endorse it, but This Lovely Life is a book that I will be reading for a long time, as I build up the courage to continue, and give myself time and space to be ready to move on. If you have grieved - especially if you have grieved the loss of a child - you may be startled to find that Vicki describes with extraordinary precision emotions and reactions you thought were uniquely your own and, even, emotions and reactions you weren't aware you had until you found yourself breathless with recognition and needing to put the book down.

And if you haven't suffered that kind of loss - and I truly hope you haven't - then go out right now and get This Lovely Life, and then clear your calendar for a couple of days.

You won't be able to put it down.

12 comments:

Leightongirl said...

Thank you. I am breathless reading your review.

Drama Mama said...

Oh, MOM. It's all that and a bag of chips. Hawaiian ones. With sea salt.

I found that the book indeed, held me captive, and that, weeks later, I still think about the family, about Evan, and yes, Ellie.

And that I could relate to Vicki completely, even though, initially, I thought that my experience with a quirky kid rendered me unfit for her club.

I've given the book to a few friends, and you know? I'm finding that everyone who is a parent, who loves someone deeply relates.

The book gave me great hope and insight, and like you, I'm picking it up and rereading, drinking in the power of Vicki's words.

Robin said...

I am so very hesitant to read this after your description because I think I will cry long and hard through the book.
Finish it and let me know if it is really worth swollen shut eyes :)

MOM-NOS said...

Robin, trust me - it is definitely, definitely worth it.

JoyMama said...

I'm a little like Robin in this, I think -- I've actually got This Lovely Life checked out from the library and am having trouble starting it (after having recommended they buy it, and then having early dibs to check it out!) I *want* to read it... I'm just hesitating to dive that deep....

Maddy said...

Aha! You and me both dearie. I like to think that it's because I'm so busy but it truth it's more that it so overwhelming that I can only manage small nibbles.

Stimey said...

It is an incredible book. It left me in tears.

drama mama said...

Hold on! Before you think this is a weepy book - it is and it isn't! It left me very hopeful and grateful.

Do not miss this book.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

I started This Lovely Life this morning, sitting on the beach. I finished it about an hour ago. I cannot remember the last time I read a book, cover-to-cover, in one day.

I agree with Drama Mama - it didn't leave me sad, it left me hopeful and inspired, and in awe.

And oh, one more thing ... I respectfully disagree that you don't have the talent or courage to write about your own journey. Only you can decide if you have the courage, but my friend, you truly do have the talent. You absolutely, most definitely, do.

telemommie said...

I usually go out of my way to avoid books that are sad, but between you & Drama Mama, I think I might read this one. Also agree that you certainly have the talent!!

Osh said...

Vicki's book has spoken to me like no other...

For the last week, I have been close to the end..."This Lovely Life" goes where ever I do, in my purse...I laugh and I cry and I want to reach out and embrace her...

Life and death are universal...

And we are all here in the same club...we are moms, and we love.

Alicia (aka Dr. Mom) said...

This book was phenomenal. I read it too (and also doing a review) and I was totally blown away with her honesty and openness and beautiful prose.