Monday, July 21, 2014

New Life, No Instructions: A Memoir by Gail Caldwell

"You can't change the tale so that you turned left one day instead of right, or didn't make the mistake that might have saved your life a day later. We don't get those choices. The story is what got you here, and embracing the truth is what makes the outcome bearable." --Gail Caldwell
Caldwell contracted polio very early on in her life, so early that she never remembers life without it and its consequences. She learns to live with a limp and fights through the pain. Until one day when a new doctor finally orders a new test that reveals that what Caldwell needs is a hip replacement. And so she undergoes surgery and begins the slow process of recovery.

"The other thing I know now is that we survive grief merely and surely by outlasting it. The ongoing fact of the narrative eclipses the heartbreak within, a deal that seems to be the price we pay for getting to hold on to our beloved dead." (p. 158).

I loved Caldwell's last memoir, Let's Take the Long Way Home, and this one was pretty good, but not as good. Still, a pleasant and thoughtful book about facing life head on, not letting it get you down, but also being gentle to yourself in the process and allowing yourself to grieve.

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