A special thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This rambling, manic at times, narrative is a raw and honest book about living with MND (here in Canada known as ALS—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—or Lou Gehrig's disease). Ruth Fitzmaurice's filmmaker husband, Simon, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2008. He is wheelchair-bound, not able to move or breathe on his own, and can only communicate through the use of an eye gaze computer. It is these eyes that Ruth uses as the windows in which to find her husband—she knows he is still in there even though he can't speak to her, or touch her.
Ruth and Simon are parents to five children, all under the age of ten. As if that weren't chaos enough, there is a constant parade of nurses that come and go 24 hours a day, and a gaggle of pets including an aggressive basset hound. One of the many challenges Ruth faces is to find any sort of peace in the chaos, any moment of stillness and calm to keep her sane and grounded. She craves connections, whether it be to her "Tragic Wives' Swimming Club", or to her favourite nurse, Marian. Human connection is so important to survival, especially in times of tragedy.
Fitzmaurice doesn't use any type of timeline, or write in any kind of order. Instead, she chunks her staccato type narrative into mini essays. To be honest, it took me a while to get into her groove, there are times where she is all over the place and scattered and it feels like she has simply taken every thought in her head and put it on the page in order to make sense of her life. While this type of writing doesn't appeal to everyone, it works for this book. This memoir is raw, honest and heartbreaking, while at the same time showing the beauty of love. It inspires, and demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit. Ruth is unabashedly open with her thoughts and feelings and I think she is incredibly brave to bare her life in this way.
Out of the 82 books I read (hopefully 83 if I manage to finish Outlander before the end of the year), those were my favourites (well, I took all my 5 stars read of 2017 and chose 10 out of those, it's not really a scientific rating):
1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: because this book was EVERYTHING. You need to read it if you haven't yet.
2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: and the whole trilogy. I totally enjoyed this unique universe with those amazing characters, a must read!
3. Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton: just WOW! This series is just so important for me, I love this world.
4. Phobos4 by Victor Dixen: this is the last book in my favourite series of 2016. This conclusion was epic.
5. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson: I just can't understand how I had never read Sanderson before this year. He is such an amazing author and I can't wait to discover more of his work.
6. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas: well, this series is one of my favourite of all time and this book did not disappoint.
7. The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye: I love this series full of Russian magic. I fell in love with the author's universe.
8. Warcross by Marie Lu: because, Marie Lu + video game = perfection.
9. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: a beautiful book with a strong message. This book made me open my eyes.
10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I think it is the first time ever a non-fiction book is on my top 10. But this was such a great experience, I had to include it.
What were some of your favourite books this year?
Thanks for reading,
|Wild was a book that had been on my tbr pile for a while, so when I heard that the author was coming to our local Lit Fest, this seemed the perfect time to pick it up and read it.
I don't know quite what I was expecting, but it was not a memoir about hiking for three months across gruelling terrain with a huge backpack attached. However, such was the crazy adventure that Cheryl Strayed tackled back in 1995, before the days of internet or mobile phones. Having done minimal research, she had very little idea of what to expect and her guide book for the trail became her bible.
The agonies of the journey were lurid - boots that were too small, causing extreme damage to her feet; blistering, bruising and loss of toe-nails, as well as abrasions on her hips and shoulders from the weighty backpack that she dubbed Monster. But to her credit, she stumbled on, mile after mile, through extremes of temperature and weather, up and down mountains thousands of feet high. Her daily mileage increased from an initial, slow, eight miles per day, to a blistering nineteen as her fitness increased.
Unfortunately for the reader, she wrote the account quite a number of years after completing the hike and the book felt like it had lost its immediacy. I trudged along with her, but there wasn't much in the way of excitement or detail and the scenery was not in my head like the sore feet were.
The death of her mother at just 45 was the trigger for the journey and by the end of it, it appeared that she had achieved her objective of putting her demons to rest. Although hiking would not be my solution to such problems, it worked for Ms Strayed, and that was what mattered.