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This Lovely Life Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Original edition (July 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547232756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547232751
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Forman's enormously affecting memoir—winner of the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Bakeless Prize—about the drastic disabilities of her extremely premature child poses challenging questions about parenthood and human compassion. Having given birth to twins at just six months' gestation (23 weeks), due to an undetected infection she learned of only much later, the author, living with her husband and three-year-old daughter in Southern California, and aware of the daunting health issues facing these babies, begged the doctors to let them go. However, the doctors refused the do-not-resuscitate order, offering the infants every form of neonatal intensive care available, and while one of the twins died within days, the boy, Evan, survived, spending six months in the hospital before the family could take him home. Evan was plagued by severe developmental difficulties, including seizures, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, congenital heart defect and blindness, and the author writes with unflinching honesty about her raw fear and conflicted feelings. With time, Forman persevered as Evan's advocate, finding solace in friendships with other mothers of special-needs children and open to experimental therapies that might prove helpful. Numbed by the crass exigencies surrounding the burial of one child (cemetery plots, tax forms), and hardened by what she terms post-traumatic stress syndrome, Forman portrays herself (sometimes shockingly) as deeply flawed and forgivingly human. (July)
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Review

“It would be difficult not to be stirred by Vicki Forman's story; but what makes This Lovely Life so good goes well past story and into idea, with which her book is so rich. The idea of love; of choice; of ambivalence; of imperfection; of purpose: these are all here, in a narrative that is propulsive, startling and vivid, like motherhood itself.”
—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Ten-Year Nap

“Intimate, compelling, and hopeful—an absolutely important book.
—Rachel Simon, author of Riding in the Bus with My Sister

“Vicki Forman's This Lovely Life is its own kind of koan--a story about death that is full of life, a story about loss rich with things gained, a story of letting go, while at the same time holding on tightly to what we love best. Spare, bracing, lovely.”—Jennifer Graf Groneberg, author of Road Map to Holland

“If such a heartbreaking story must be any parent's to tell at all, I'm thankful that it should fall to such a talented voice as Vicki Forman to bring it to the rest of us. Forman writes with sensitivity and clarity; her love is powerful and her eyes are wide open. This Lovely Life is a beautiful story of loss and love, and ultimately of understanding, one that left me shaken, haunted and deeply moved long after I finished reading.”
—Robert Rummel-Hudson, author of Schuyler's Monster

"Forman’s enormously affecting memoir…about the drastic disabilities of her extremely premature child poses challenging questions about parenthood and human compassion…. Forman portrays herself (sometimes shockingly) as deeply flawed and forgivingly human.
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED

"A searing tale of heartache and impressive depth of character" —Kirkus


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 30 customer reviews
This Lovely Life is a story of courage, pain, hope and despair.
FM
I feel this author is very honest in the book, even describing things she said, thought and did that are not 'sweet' or 'motherly'.
Nancy
This is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching, unflinchingly honest memoir.
Lee Goldstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The description of this book is heartbreaking, but I came away from reading it moved, overwhelmed, and possessed by the joy you can only feel in the presence of truth. Forman has been through pain that most of us will never experience -- by taking us with her on that journey, we are able to see her growing through sadness, anger and denial into a warrior, teacher and healer who advocates fiercely for her multiply disabled, but no less beautiful or important child. Through her eyes we are able to learn truths that we might never reach on our own; when she writes, "Even a short life is a whole life; this I have learned," I cried, not with anguish, but with joy.

There is a Zen saying, "If you want to find the path, set fire to your own life." By enduring the flames of her rage, pain, and ultimately love, Forman illuminates truths that will stay with me forever. I am grateful for this book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Rosa on July 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Vicki Forman begged to let her micropreemie twins slip away from the unimaginable, and was talked into holding on. This Lovely Life is the story of her and her family's lives for the next two years. The author describes -- without vanity, with unyielding honesty -- how the unimaginable encompasses more, asks more than some parents ever thought they could handle -- and the lessons we all can take from such experiences.

Though her journey is underpinned by strength, love, and acceptance, the realities of the author's son's first two years are often brutal. Thankfully Ms. Forman, like Dickey and Nabokov before her, writes so beautifully that I found myself sighing with pleasure at her prose, even though her generosity and story had me in tears.

Please, read this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By LK on June 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is not just a book for people who have faced the sorrows of raising a disabled child. It is an amazing, moving, engrossing tale about how we learn to love and accept our children and ourselves, with all our flaws, all our imperfections.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By KMS on June 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Vicki Forman's memoir of the premature birth of her twins and the heartbreaking events that follow is a story that raises important questions about life and love, modern medicine and motherhood. Written from the heart--a heart shattered and broken by grief--Forman's story is honest and compelling. With a skillful hand, she draws readers into her world weaving a tale that is at once devastating and life-affirming.

In the forward to the book, fellow author Tom Bissell, writes, "This Lovely Life is less a book one reads than a book one experiences, and no one who gives him- or herself to this writer's terrible, beautiful story will ever be the same again."

Winner of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize, This Lovely Life is a must read, one that will spark important conversations about the sanctity of life and love, and what it truly means to become a parent.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Levi on July 22, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before I decided to have children I remember speaking to many parents and asking them if parenthood was an endeavor that was worth taking on. They all said something like "oh, you have to do it, it's the best. . . " never alluding to the parts that weren't always the best. Of course, I went ahead and had kids and found out that it was the best. It was the greatest thing I've ever done. It was also the most difficult, the darkest, the most aggravating, the worst.

Reading Vicki Forman's book, you are reminded that you don't really know what voyage you are about the embark on when you start a family. Maybe that is part of the allure? Vicki Forman's book illuminates for the reader a part of the parenting experience that not many people see. The honest, pull no punches way she writes about certain experiences somehow come across as poetic in their brutal reality. Her fervent love for her children is weaved through every page. The raw pain and her families attempt to make sense of it all is palpable. It is an honest, beautiful book.
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I found this book to be exactly the medicine I needed a year and a half after we left the NICU. The author does a great job summing up the experience and talking intimately about the complex emotions involved with having a chronically ill child in the NICU.
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Format: Paperback
This Lovely Life is one of the best books I've ever read. It is searing, full of the worst pain one could imagine, and enormous joy. Reading the journey of the author from a rather ordinary overachiever to a fierce protector of her disabled child is one of the most moving transformations I have witnessed in a human. I cannot recommend this book enough.
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Wow. This is a memoir that really stays with you. The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is that the writing - while being, overall, exceptional - felt rushed at the book's end. But the story of this mother and her journey with her micro-preemie twins Ellie (who passed away after 4 days after her birth) and Evan (whose life is the book's focus) is intense, real, and relatable. I don't honestly know if this book drew me in so quickly because I am a twin mother - I don't think so, but I'm just mentioning in case my opinion is unintentionally biased. I think, though, that I basically got drawn in because of the honesty and rawness of the writing, as well as the connection I could feel toward a mother who just tried her hardest to do whatever the right thing was by her fragile child. Perhaps not everyone will enjoy the book - it does not spare details about Evan's many struggles, operations, experimental therapies, and the overarching effect on the rest of the author's family - but provided you are ready for a real, "no Hollywood ending" story, it is amazing. Again, the only reason I didn't give it a full 5 stars is that I felt a mild disappointment at the very end of the book, because it seemed that the very last chapter or two of the book wasn't as intimate and fleshed out as the remainder. But that's a small quibble. Beautiful book; really stays with me.
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