Title: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
Author: Elizabeth McCracken
Release Date: September 10, 2008
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Review: Hachette Book Group Blog Tour
Rating: ***** (out of 5)
From the dust jacket:
A prizewinning, successful novelist in her thirties, Elizabeth McCracken was happy to be an itinerant writer and self-proclaimed spinster. Then she fell in love, got married, and continued her life of writing, traveling, and teaching with her husband. Two years ago, she found herself in a remote part of France, waiting for the birth of her first child.
This book is about wht happens next. In the ninth month of her pregnancy, a baby is lost. Just over a year later, a baby is born. In a profoundly moving display of humor, heart, and unfailing generosity, McCracken tenderly presents her story.
It is a story of truelove and unfathomable sadness. It is a story of courageous recovery and bittersweet moments, of steadfast memories and deep affection. It is a story of the importance of friendship. It is a story of happienss and of hope.
Anyone who has ever experienced loss or loves someone who has, will hope to go on with the company of this remarkable book.
Any reader who visits this blog on a regular basis knows that I don’t often give out 5 star ratings. 4 and a half, yes, but not 5. To me, 5 stars means “perfect” – it doesn’t have to be perfectly written or the perfect storyline, but it needs to speak with me on a deeper level; I need to get it, and it needs to get me.
I’ve never had a baby. That may be in the cards one day, but it’s not something my husband and I have planned for anytime soon. So you might ask: how can this book, about a woman who loses her unborn child, speak to me?
The answer? I don’t know. But what I can tell you is that this book is amazing. It is simple and beautiful; a tribute to a child that didn’t quite make it into the world. It is a work of enduring and unconditional love from a mother to a child. Though I haven’t been a mother, I have been a child and I have seen the quality of that love firsthand. It pours from each page, love and grief mixed into one.
However, somehow the book is still joyful and full of hope. On every page, as the reader takes in McCracken’s unfathomable sense of loss, there is also hope. Don’t get me wrong – it is sometimes difficult to read. I found myself tearing up more than once. But the book is so unflinchingly honest, so real, that it feels like real life. There are all the emotions present, mixed in with the grief.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is beautifully written, honest, emotional, and full of the wonder of life. It is McCracken’s tribute to her unborn child, so that she, and everyone else, will always remember what she had and what she lost.
I’ll end this interview with a question I posed to McCracken, and her wonderful answer:
Me: What made you want to write a book about something so personal and tragic as the loss of a child? Was it something you originally wrote for yourself, as a way to deal with your grief, or did you always mean to share it with others?
Elizabeth: All along I knew I would eventually write something about my lost first child, but when I got pregnant the second time I just couldn’t do it. Of course I was regularly visited by worries and nightmares: I wasn’t prepared to invite them in. So once my second child was three weeks old and healthy, I started writing. I don’t know what I thought I was working on. Notes? Blather? A private diary? I was sleep deprived and ecstatic and yet still griefstruck. Writing plain made me feel better. It turned the shadows into words. It helped me know I felt. In some ways it felt like a return to my earliest years of writing fiction seriously, I wrote it in such strange privacy. I didn’t even tell my friends I was doing it. Because I write books, what I wrote came out moderately book-shaped, but practically everything about it is accidental. Deciding to publish it was completely separate. I’m glad it was that way. I think if I’d thought I’d publish it, I would have never written it, if you know what I mean.
This blog tour continues at A Bookworm’s World – a big thank you to Miriam at Hachette!