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Signs of Life: A Memoir Hardcover – April 12, 2011
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“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 cleansing kind of crying that feels good for you. More often, I laughed out loud and re-read passages for the pure pleasure of it. I was both charmed by and admiring of the narrator, who is so smart and funny and fearless and human, and whose gradual understanding of the nature of grief is so profound. Her ultimate triumph feels like our own. Sit down with this book. See if you can stop after page one.” —Elizabeth Berg, author of Talk Before Sleep and Once Upon a Time, There Was You
“Natalie Taylor faced an enormous happiness challenge. In this thought-provoking memoir, she explains how she coped with it and what she learned, in a way that’s profound yet funny, painful yet hopeful. I couldn’t put it down.”—Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
“This is a really good book. Smart and honest.”—Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place and Lift
"This candid memoir of a journey into and out of darkness has a full quota of humor and ends on a note of hope."--Kirkus
"Compelling." --Working Mother
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved the book, I was in the same boat and I can attest to the raw emotions you go through. Unbelievable how a moment changes ones life . Read morePublished 4 months ago by avengermua
Honest, straightforward, and well-written book chronicling a young pregnant wife's journey through her grief following her husband's freak-accident death. You go, Natalie!Published 14 months ago by Donna M
I have deep compassion for Natalie's pain in losing her beloved, Josh. It must be even more
difficult for a young person, because it is also the loss of a dream as well. Read more
I find myself reading her book, hoping to find some help for dealing with my own grief after losing my husband to cancer. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Myra Jolley
Natalie writes a very interesting even witty book in the face of disaster and sheer heartbreak. I loved this book even if it was a bit depressing. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Rebecca
Moving and exceedingly well written. Memoir is my favorite genre and this gem is at the top of my list!Published 16 months ago by Teacher Mom
Natalie writes so honestly about her grief and raw emotions after her loss. She shares with the reader not only the difficulty in moving forward with life but the rewards in the... Read morePublished 16 months ago by dLACY