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04 June 2005

The Kind of Love That Saves You

By Amy Yurk

Can you believe that I got this book as a Christmas present from my in-laws in 2001? When I began to read it in Feb 2002, I had just learned I was pregnant with Juliette, our first child. About 20 pages in, I got this feeling that it wasn't a good thing for me to be reading with my particular hormonal imbalance at that time. (Note: I probably had known what the book was about at some point, like when I put it on my Amazon wishlist months earlier, but after I receive a book as a gift I don't re-read its description or dust jacket - don't want too much information, like with movie trailers).

Anyway, I was right. The novel is about a woman whose husband dies suddenly in a car crash when she is three months pregnant and about the two tremendous friends she has to help her through her grief and her pregnancy. Written as a series of letters to her unborn daughter, like a journal, the stages of her grief are very convincing - from shock, depression, anger, etc., all juxtaposed against the stages of her pregnancy. Constantly, as she mourned, she wondered what her feelings were doing to her unborn daughter. At a time when most mothers (including me) are joyous and anticipatory, she was a powerful mix of fearful and needy. The baby was all that she had left to keep her solid.

Enough with the plot. Time for the rough stuff. I cried, yes, and I laughed at some of the pregnancy humor that I had experienced and forgotten. However, the first-time author worked with characters that were too formulaic. Perhaps because of the journal format and the resulting first-person limited perspective, everything was resolved very quickly. An argument or issue detailed in Entry A was resolved in Entry B (as you would, really, updating a journal once you had something new to write about). But it left out some of the psychological wonderings of her friends & family who might have given more depth to the protagonist. Also, it was too Sisterhood for my taste--with the prerequisite Spa Day, too much chocolate, and discussions of female sex toys.

In the end, the grief she experienced didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. Maybe if had been about a woman with two toddlers whose husband dies suddenly....

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