Signs of Life

Signs of Life

3.6 55
by Natalie Taylor
     
 

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“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life
 
Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she

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Overview

“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life
 
Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months before the birth of her son, Natalie is leveled by loss. 
 
What follows is an incredibly powerful emotional journey, as Natalie calls upon resources she didn’t even know she had in order to re-imagine and re-build a life for her and her son. In vivid and immediate detail, Natalie documents her life from the day of Josh’s death through the birth their son, Kai, as she struggles in her role as a new mother where everyone is watching her for signs of impending collapse.  With honesty, raw pain, and most surprising, a wicked sense of humor, Natalie recounts the agonies and unexpected joys of her new life.  There is the frustration of holidays, navigating the relationship with her in-laws, the comfort she finds and unlikely friendship she forges in support groups and the utterly breathtaking, but often overwhelming new motherhood.   When she returns to the classroom, she finds that little is more healing than the honesty and egocentricity of teenagers. 
 
Drawing on lessons from beloved books like The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye and the talk shows she suddenly can’t get enough of, from the strength of her family and friends, and from a rich fantasy life—including a saucy fairy godmother who guides her grieving—Natalie embarks on the ultimate journey of self-discovery and realizes you can sometimes find the best in yourself during the worst life has to offer.  And she delivers these lessons, in way that feels like she’s right beside you in her bathrobe and with a glass of wine—the cool, funny girlfriend you love to stay up all night with. 
 
Unforgettable and utterly absorbing, Signs of Life features a powerful, wholly original debut voice that will have you crying and laughing to the very last page.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Told with pulsing heart-in-the-hand pace—this book reads like a primer for anyone who has experienced the beast that is grief.  With wit, gutting honesty, and a modicum of self-pity, Natalie Taylor gives us permission to cry the necessary gamut of tears that healing requires…and that includes tears of joy.”—Laura Munson, author of the best-selling memoir This Is Not The Story You Think It Is:  A Season of Unlikely Happiness 
  
“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

Kirkus Reviews

Emotional memoir of a young life turned upside down by sudden death and then slowly put back right.

Taylor constructs her memoir from entries in a journal she kept after her young husband, Josh, died in a skateboarding accident. The author was 24 years old and five months pregnant when it happened, and she unsparingly recorded her deep despair and anger at her loss. Although surrounded by a large, close family and many supportive friends, she was devastated by her new status as a young widow and overwhelmed by the challenges of being a single mother. Taylor briefly recounts her sessions with a grief counselor and details her meetings with a single-mothers group and with a bereavement group of mostly seniors. Although she learned and benefited from these groups, the care of her son, Kai, was what truly restored her. At Kai's first smile, she writes, "motherhood body slammed wifehood and deemed herself to be bigger, stronger, and downright more important." Especially rewarding are the author's descriptions of her 11th-grade English class, where she offers wry comments about her students and pithy summaries of novels she is teaching. She also ponders her relationship with certain literary characters, including Gatsby, who longs to re-create the past; Gregor Samsa, who undergoes a dramatic metamorphosis; andOf Mice and Men's Lennie and George, who are powerless to change their lives. Taylor does change her life, and the closing pages find her testing herself by finishing a triathlon. Despite the heartbreak, this candid memoir of a journey into and out of darkness has a full quota of humor and ends on a note of hope.

Women's book groups take note: For a lively discussion, compare with Joan Didion'sThe Year of Magical Thinking (2005).

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307717504
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
03/13/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
564,528
Product dimensions:
5.28(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.74(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Told with pulsing heart-in-the-hand pace—this book reads like a primer for anyone who has experienced the beast that is grief.  With wit, gutting honesty, and a modicum of self-pity, Natalie Taylor gives us permission to cry the necessary gamut of tears that healing requires…and that includes tears of joy.”—Laura Munson, author of the best-selling memoir This Is Not The Story You Think It Is:  A Season of Unlikely Happiness 
  
“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

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Meet the Author

NATALIE TAYLOR and her son, Kai Taylor, live in Royal Oak, Michigan. Natalie teaches high school English and recently earned her master's degree in Education. Kai is working on his numbers, letters, and colors.

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