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Signs of Life: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Natalie Taylor
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.02
You Save: $5.98 (40%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life
Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months before the birth of her son, Natalie is leveled by loss. 
What follows is an incredibly powerful emotional journey, as Natalie calls upon resources she didn’t even know she had in order to re-imagine and re-build a life for her and her son. In vivid and immediate detail, Natalie documents her life from the day of Josh’s death through the birth their son, Kai, as she struggles in her role as a new mother where everyone is watching her for signs of impending collapse.  With honesty, raw pain, and most surprising, a wicked sense of humor, Natalie recounts the agonies and unexpected joys of her new life.  There is the frustration of holidays, navigating the relationship with her in-laws, the comfort she finds and unlikely friendship she forges in support groups and the utterly breathtaking, but often overwhelming new motherhood.   When she returns to the classroom, she finds that little is more healing than the honesty and egocentricity of teenagers. 
Drawing on lessons from beloved books like The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye and the talk shows she suddenly can’t get enough of, from the strength of her family and friends, and from a rich fantasy life—including a saucy fairy godmother who guides her grieving—Natalie embarks on the ultimate journey of self-discovery and realizes you can sometimes find the best in yourself during the worst life has to offer.  And she delivers these lessons, in way that feels like she’s right beside you in her bathrobe and with a glass of wine--the cool, funny girlfriend you love to stay up all night with. 
Unforgettable and utterly absorbing, Signs of Life features a powerful, wholly original debut voice that will have you crying and laughing to the very last page.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Taylor was 24-years-old and five-months pregnant when a fatal accident claimed her husband. Signs of Life chronicles her life as she processes the tragedy and its ramifications. Like Gilbert�s Eat, Pray, Love (2006), this memoir will divide readers, with some seeing Taylor�s story as an inspiring journey of self-discovery and others viewing her narrative as self-obsessed, honest but only as a means to elicit sympathy. A high-school English teacher, Taylor uses the classic texts she teaches to establish her chapters. Works such as Sartre�s No Exit and Salinger�s Catcher in the Rye prompt heavy philosophical questions. What is suffering? Is tragedy evaluable and comparable? Should suffering be compared? But rather than serve as segues to bestowing illumination, her reflections stop short. She describes daily life and emotions microscopically but fails to extrapolate from her experiences beyond what we already know, that life is both tragic and joyous. Readers won�t find Taylor�s memoir revelatory, but it is wry, embarrassing, funny, and touching. --Katharine Fronk


“Told with pulsing heart-in-the-hand pace—this book reads like a primer for anyone who has experienced the beast that is grief.  With wit, gutting honesty, and a modicum of self-pity, Natalie Taylor gives us permission to cry the necessary gamut of tears that healing requires…and that includes tears of joy.”—Laura Munson, author of the best-selling memoir This Is Not The Story You Think It Is:  A Season of Unlikely Happiness 
“Some writers have a compelling story; others have an original voice. But it is the rare writer who has both. Natalie Taylor is one of those writers. Read this book if you've ever had to find your way back from the dark place of loss or if you want to hear how someone so young, and raw, and unprepared, did, all while keeping her dark sense of humor. Signs of Life proves that even in the worst of times, under the most difficult conditions, things still grow, and even thrive, in the broken places.”—Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry
“Young women and solo mothers everywhere will find a new best friend in Natalie Taylor, who meets the challenges of her life with grace and humor.”—Julie Metz, author of the New York Times bestseller Perfection
“One of the many things I really loved about this memoir is the inclusion of quotes from authors, and the acknowledgment that words have the power to comfort and sustain us. I wish a quote from me wasn't among them, though.  That's because I'm worried that someone will think I was persuaded to like the book because I'm in it, however tangentially. The truth is that literally from page one, I was completely drawn into this remarkably honest story of what it's like to deal with the sudden loss of the person you loved most in your life. I stayed up too late and I neglected my own work to read it.  I wept sometimes, but it was the cl...

Product Details

  • File Size: 1364 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307717496
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IK8Q40
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,450 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, inspiring, well-written memoir February 26, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Signs of Life is a rare and wonderful book that should be highlighted as an example of what a good memoir can be. There is a long list of things remarkable about this memoir, starting with the author is only in her early twenties but possesses a remarkable degree of self-awareness. As an English teacher, not only is the book well written, but also Ms. Taylor weaves in beloved bits of literature that adds even more depth to the story. Signs of Life depicts an emotionally wrenching journey of highs and lows through two life changing events without ever slipping into the self-absorption that can ruin a memoir.

Natalie Taylor and her husband Josh were an average, young, married couple, perhaps a little bit happier and luckier than most. When Josh dies in a freak accident, Natalie is twenty-four years old and pregnant with their first child. Ms. Taylor easily draws the reader into sharing her journey of grief, uneasiness, and awkwardness. The death of a young person holds a unique degree of tragedy, and the descriptions of how Josh's friends and family memorialize him are seen through the unique perspective of how Natalie both yearns and dreads to hear Josh spoken of publicly.

Enhancing Natalie's story are the friends and family that surround her. Often, they provide comfort and company, but equally, they can also irritate and annoy. Ms. Taylor writes across a wide spectrum of relationship joys and challenges with affection and a wry wit. When her son Kai is born, Natalie leans on her family for help and support while they equally struggle with joy and grief.

As time passes, Natalie comes to terms with one of the truisms of life--things change. She returns to her job teaching school, gets counseling, and finds a support group for single mothers.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-Learning to Live February 9, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Death comes when we least expect it, out of the blue. Our lives are changed forever.

For Natalie Taylor, her husband's death in a skateboarding accident came 18 months into their marriage. She was five months pregnant.

She couldn't fathom how she was going to live on for their child. She pictures herself as a zombie-robot, not entitled to raising this beautiful boy. Worse, would she hate the sight of him because he looks like his father?

All of these thoughts sound as if they make for a a painful read. And who needs more pain in their lives? Yes, there is pain. But with each pain and meltdown, there is a friend, an insight, a passage from literature to help Natalie back onto her feet for one more day. In this way, the reader too can see strength.

Natalie teaches high school English. Her worst fear is crying in front of the kids, especially when the curriculum requires works that deal with death (and many, many do). The teens intuit her genuine caring for them, and though they still act out and focus on themselves more than on their grieving teacher, they also show compassion in small and beautiful ways.

I loved this book. Natalie made me laugh in almost every chapter. She is not maudlin. She has what she calls her fairy godmother's blunt advice and her sister-in-law, though annoying, still teaches her a lot about handling of phony people. I loved Natalie's strength, her looking for a spot of sunlight on those ever-gloomy days. She has written vignettes from her life that at some point in anyone's grieving, that other person is going to say, "Yes, it was just like that." I was surprised at the energy and humor Natalie Taylor gave her true and tragic story.

"Signs of Life" is fine writing on a sad subject.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Memoir of Grieving February 15, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Opening Natalie Taylor's "Signs of Life: A Memoir," I expected to be drawn in quickly and indeed, Taylor wastes no time. Her poignant journey begins with the sudden loss of her young husband in a freak accident, when she is five months pregnant with their son.

All at once, Taylor is enveloped in the aftermath of death, while awaiting the new life growing inside her. And she takes her readers along for an emotional ride as she learns to rewrite a future without the love and support of her late husband.

Usually, I wouldn't give a memoir of a 24-year-old a second thought, doubtful I could learn from someone who's only beginning to find her way in the world. But Taylor lives, grieves, loves and grows more than many will in an entire lifetime and she does it with courage, dark humor and an admirable innate strength that propels her through the stages of grieving, all while learning to become a mother. At book's end, her story is far from over, but Taylor has clearly emerged with a better understanding of herself and her abilities. This was a quick read. Recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real person, real life; hard to put down. April 2, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I read this book in two days. I was riveted to Mrs. Taylor's journey through grief and learning to be a single mom as her very real life and struggles came venting, screaming, chatting, crying, and laughing off the pages. Mrs. Taylor avoids the banality of a reality show as she never tries to wrangle the emotions of her reader in the interest of her story. She doesn't offer her story as a prescription for grief. Rather, she's just real.

As a fellow English teacher, I appreciated Mrs. Taylor's insightful, clever, and correct use of English literature. I tell my students that literature is a window into another life and another time communicating truths to us. It's clear that Mrs. Taylor looks to literature for the same purpose: to clarify and make sense of her world. It's clear that literature is one of the forces that sustains her. This is a book I'd recommend to every English teacher as internal armor against the infernal and eternal teen question, "Why are we reading this?"

Read this because you are a human.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Good book - Interesting - well written
Published 29 days ago by JS
4.0 out of 5 stars It was an interesting story and I felt it helped ...
It was an interesting story and I felt it helped me to understand the grieving process that others go through. A tough time in Natalie's life, but also uplifting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carolyn N.
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time.
Don't waste your time.
Published 3 months ago by Ann B. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars life, as it really is
Started out a bit depressing, but chapter by chapter it grew interesting. It was about staying with life, even though there was a lot of sadness involved. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mary R. Baran
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Whiney for Me
This may be more suitable for a younger person. I am over 60 so it was not as relevant to me anymore. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jawbee
5.0 out of 5 stars Very accurate
I stumbled upon this book a few months after my fiancee died. I was 25 and I felt isolated and alone, desperately wanting someone to relate to, someone who could understand this... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jessca Stokes
4.0 out of 5 stars Memoir of the first 18 months of widowhood
Other than the fact that the first half of this book kind of dragged for me, I thought the writer did a great job of expressing the roller coaster of emotions that follow a tragedy... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Joy B
5.0 out of 5 stars Satisfied!
This hardcover book was only $4 and I recieved it in great condition. No tears or dents in pages. There was a scratch on the cover but its barely noticeable. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Em
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
This was a wonderful book. Very moving and hit it with the stages of grieving. Anyone who has lost a loved one should read this.
Published 14 months ago by CM
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply superb
Natalie Taylor's resilience after enduring a tragic loss shows the mettle of this young woman. That she shared her wrenching experience in the wise and witty Signs of Life is a... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Paula Stahel
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