Review Fridays #2- Signs of Life

Signs of life cover

Book Author: Natalie Taylor

I had high hopes for this one. This memoir chronicles a wife’s first year and a half (or so) after her husband dies in a freak accident. At the time of his death, Taylor is only 24 years old and 5 months pregnant. The first few chapters reeled me in quickly, but somewhere in the middle, I found myself struggling to keep interest. I almost put the book down without finishing it, but I found that I couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was just my obsessive need to finish books that kicked in or if I just hope this book would get better.

What I liked, was that weaved within the pages was Taylor’s relationship with literature and how she was able to deepen her connection to the universal themes of literary fiction after this tragedy. I also liked her references to her students (she’s a high school literature teacher) and how they impacted her journey. She also employed outside sources by creating “The Family” a mafia style support group of family and friends and an “FMD” (fairy mom-god-mother) to outwardly express her inward emotions. She does this well.

I don’t know that she tried to be funny, as this memoir stems from her personal journal that was largely unedited, but it didn’t work out too well. It seemed a little forced. Taking into consideration that this was her personal journal, I do feel as though the emotions were convincing and the content was quite believable. It just got, at times, a bit boring. She seemed stuck, but at the same time, she probably was. The grieving process is different for everyone.

Taylor’s memoir picked up a bit when there was a shift from despair to healing, but it still didn’t become some exhilarating or profound work that I had hoped for.

This lack of insight stems from the memoir being taken from the actual time of grief. Most memoirs have a reflective quality ripe with revelation, realization, or understanding that readers are able to connect with. While this memoir described grief in “real-time” it lacked any real character development or shift. This becomes the main problem for the text. I do believe, that anything negative I have to say about this memoir might stem from my own ignorance, as I have never experienced such intense grief.

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