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An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir (Roughcut) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 10, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. McCracken tells her own story in this touching and often unexpectedly funny memoir about her life before and after losing her first child in the ninth month of pregnancy. As difficult as it must have been to read aloud, McCrackens delivery is courageous and never self-pitying. McCracken is forthright about the tragedy, telling the listener early on that a baby dies in this book, but that another one is born. McCrackens reading is enthralling and deeply moving, as if she is relating this intimate journey directly to each listener individually from a dark, candle-lit room, in an unforgettable performance. A Little, Brown hardcover (reviewed online). (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

In Elizabeth McCracken’s heartrending memoir—a love letter to the child she lost and the devoted husband who suffered alongside her—McCracken displays her many talents. Her warmth, candor, crystalline prose, lovely imagery, and attention to detail bring her painful story to life. McCracken’s dark sense of humor ensnares unwitting readers, belying the sadness with which she writes, and she shows very little patience for self-pity and sentimentality. Critics praised her clear-eyed account in a genre replete with syrupy, self-aggrandizing books, though some expressed doubts that its subject matter would have wide appeal. “I’m not ready for my first child to fade into history,” explains McCracken. With this heartbreaking account of his life, there’s little chance of that.
Copyright 2008 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316027677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316027670
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #954,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By JJ Stark VINE VOICE on September 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As the mother of four children, two of whom died hours after they were born, I just knew I had to read Elizabeth McCracken's story after reading a magazine review. The story is honest and straight from the heart. Reading her journey of Pudding's life during her pregnancy and subsequent death, I took comfort from her words, knowing that there's no right or wrong way to handle yourself & your grief after the loss of a child. As she asked herself "What if..." I found myself remembering those exact same questions, knowing deep down that there really was nothing that could have changed the sad outcome. I respect and admire the strength and courage it took for her to share her story and am grateful for being given the chance to relive my children's short lives and subsequent deaths with sadness and a hint of joy. They are, after all, a part of our family and Pudding will always be Elizabeth's "first born." As she questioned herself that first Mother's Day, I nodded my head and said aloud "Yes -- you are a Mother and deserve to celebrate this day with Mothers everywhere."

The story is beautifully written with words the flow gently, accurately describing the pain and sorrow and hope she & her husband felt that entire year after Pudding's death. I felt as if I knew Elizabeth personally and shared in her happiness after the birth of Gus. I am certain he will come to know his big brother "Pudding" and will be grateful for the role he played in bringing Gus into this world.

Thank you for sharing your story Elizabeth. You are an inspiration to mother's everywhere, especially those of us who have gone through similar situations and for those who may not have the courage to share their story.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Shana Schmadeke on September 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most powerful books I've read in quite some time. It is easily read in a day. Once you start, you won't want to put it down. There is a huge amount of emotional vulnerability and honesty in this short memoir, which makes for an extraordinarily engaging read.

From the beginning, the reader knows about the tragic and heartbreaking ending of McCracken's first pregnancy. We know what happened, but we're not quite sure about the details leading up to the point where she received the news that her unborn baby had died. McCracken makes you feel that you need to know. You need to understand exactly what happened. But she takes her time, giving you the background first.

McCracken goes back and forth between past and present. How she met her husband (who is surely an angel, by the way), how they lived in various countries on various continents, how they ended up living in France at the time of her pregnancy. She is all over the place in terms of the timeline of events, which might be distracting, EXCEPT for the fact that all the jumping around somehow seemed appropriate given the subject matter of this book. Because this book is about grief, and let's face it: grief is messy.

One of the aspects of this book that stands out the most in my mind is the author's feelings about the reactions of her friends and family. What expressions of sympathy gave her strength and courage, and what left her cold? This memoir was written a little over a year after her first baby died in utero, and shortly after the birth of her second child. McCracken is painfully honest about who responded how.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Michele on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read an excerpt of this memoir in Oprah magazine - the author is a favorite of mine, but I was unaware of this part of her personal story. I immediately pre-purchased the book on Amazon. Today it arrived and I found myself opening it and standing in the kitchen reading it while listening to two beautiful boys in the next room playing with each other. I read half the book just standing there - alternately smiling and tearing up...and just knowing, knowing what she was writing about. I feel apologetic (emotionally, not logically) for relating so well when my first pregnancy was (just) a miscarriage, and not a stillbirth - I can only imagine they must feel different as experiences, but in my heart they don't. Elizabeth McCracken has written such a moving, beautiful memoir. It's not so much a tribute to her son, but just a concrete picture of his realness and the realness of everything that was before and after. I'm so glad she wrote this book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By BermudaOnion VINE VOICE on September 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination is a memoir written by Elizabeth McCracken and published by Hachette Book Group.

Elizabeth McCracken was happy in her life as a single woman until she met and fell in love with Edward Harvey. They married and since they are both writers, they lived a migratory life. In 2006, Elizabeth and Edward were living in France and expecting a baby. The pregnancy was uncomplicated, but they were still cautious - not naming the baby or preparing for it too soon. Late in the pregnancy, Elizabeth realized that the baby wasn't moving as much as he once did, so they visited their midwife. After and examination, the midwife said "I wish he would respond more, but it is not serious." Later that day, their baby died, and Elizabeth had to go through an agonizing stillborn delivery. They left France and eventually moved to America, where they had a healthy baby boy (Gus) a year and three days after the stillbirth.

"When I was pregnant with Gus, toward the end especially, there was nothing in my life that was not bittersweet. Every piece of hope was tinged with sadness; every moment of relief was lit on the edges with worry. But now that Gus is Stateside, my love for him is just plain love, just plain sweet."

Elizabeth says, "This is the happiest story in the world with the saddest ending", but I think it's just the opposite. It's a sad story, but Elizabeth doesn't wallow in self pity, and it has a wonderfully happy ending. Through her vivid descriptions, I felt the pain and suffering they went through. This is an emotional book that is full of hope. I admire the incredible strength, courage and love that Elizabeth and Edward possess. I learned that it is better to say the wrong thing than nothing at all to the grieving, and that grieving goes on much longer than sympathy does. This book moved me to tears, but by the end of the book, my sorrow had turned to joy.
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