Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Long Awakening

The Long Awakening, a memoir

 Probably one of the best books I'll read this year, and certainly one of the most moving. If the idea of this book intrigues you at all, you would do well to check it out. It's the story of a life-changing-event story, it's the story of a miracle, it's a story about what-happens-after-your-life-changes, and it's a warmly human story. 

When Revell offered me this book to review for Brain Injury Awareness Month, I knew I wanted to read it. Brain injury is a personal subject in my home, because my mother had a stroke at 39. She's in near-excellent health today, Praise our Lord, but it was a long road. Our dive into the world of medicine and tests and such was both traumatic and fascinating, and I found myself reading many sections of The Long Awakening aloud to her. She doesn't think she's ready to read it all herself- just the parts I read her sparked memories- but she understood what Mrs. O'Connor was going through at different times. 

Because of my connection to a brain injury patient, I wasn't able to set this memoir aside, and I wanted to keep reading because the way Lindsey tells this story is riveting. You'd think the account of a woman who goes into a coma the day her fifth child is born would be too terrible to even read, but there is such a sense of love in this book amidst the tragedy. Such a strong sense of family and caregiving and care-receiving and comforting each other and grieving together and the bonds between us that never let us go. 

She recounts so many of her family's experiences in this book, giving us multiple windows into that time. We read about the way Lindsey's eldest daughter returned home to become sister-mother to newborn Caroline, and how Lindsey rejoiced that her baby had such good care and yet mourned that she didn't know her own infant's languages. 

She tells us about the conversations that went on behind the scenes, as her family lived without the ability to grieve fully or the ability to completely hope. 
It was like they were all underwater, her in the coma and them in the aftermath of uncertainty and fear. The worst thing I can imagine is having to look at children's faces while they ask "What is going to happen to Mom?" 

Yet Lindsey keeps a little humor and hint of irony in her storytelling too. When she was released from the hospital at last, and all her friends and family would cry with happiness every time they saw her, she nicknames herself The Human Onion. 

Chapter 21 may be my favorite chapter of all, as that is the one where Lindsey begins to look back and ask God what on earth was the meaning of all of that, and where was He in it. I was underlining quotes throughout this book, and I found some of my favorite in those pages. 

Again, if you think this book may be for you, it comes highly endorsed by Eric Metaxas and many other well-spoken voices of our day. I would suggest you try it. 

Thank you Revell for my review copy.

I’m married to a guy I’m still crazy about after 30 years and we have five children– four launched, one in elementary school, who remind me of life’s priorities. They are my “Legacy Project,” my most important work.
I adore radio and memoir. Ira Glass wows me and I think This American Life is it. Ditto StoryCorp. Ditto an insane amount of podcasts. Reading a great memoir is like sipping a flute of fine Veuve Clicquot champagne; my bookshelves creak with their weight.
I love a latte at my local hangout, tacos at my three local hangouts, good red wine. Some things you need to know about me if we’re going to be friends: I really dislike sugar and shopping and dogs, but please don’t hold that against me. I get into talking about story maybe more than anyone you’ve met. I would rather do field reporting and tell people’s interesting stories than just about anything. Oh, and in case you didn’t catch this, I love books; reading them, writing them, talking about them.

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