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 gets

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307717511
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
04/12/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
414,876
File size:
2 MB

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

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Signs of Life 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Kristy1984 More than 1 year ago
Signs Of Life's cover states: "Sit down with this book. See if you can stop at page 1." Well, the beginning was pretty good. But after a while it just gets repetitive. No, I didn't stop.. but I wanted to. I was really hoping it would get better. Actually, her best chapter was her last. It was the most uplifting part of the whole book. Natalie never gives any real insight into her husband.. except he was basically the best person ever! And although I do feel for her.. I felt like she was just so stuck up and rude. I know she was greiving.. but still. I also felt like this book was just thrown together. One paragraph could be about a book (and trust me.. she gave so many book reviews... ) and the next it was about how her loss was so much worse than everyone elses. So yeah, it felt like she scribbled this all down and put it together into a book. Would I recommend this book to someone who recently lost someone? No. I also don't understand how she could get rid of her dogs
David_Vic_Wilson More than 1 year ago
This books is impossible to put down. Signs of Life is a memoir written by author Natalie Taylor and begins with the tragic accidental death of her husband Josh when she is 5 months pregnant. The book is addictive. While set in the WORST of circumstances, Signs of Life shows us all that there are moments of hope that keep us moving forward. The writing is so raw that it pulls at the complete emotional rolodex... bringing you from sad grief on one page to deep bellied laughter on the next. Natalie discusses how her crazy family, a made up Fairy Mom Godmother, her students, her son Kai, her single mom groups, TV, and radio shows all help her pick up the pieces and move on. Signs of Life is an amazing read and I suspect this isn't the author's only book. Natalie's passion for literature is evident throughout and she's an original voice on a very difficult subject. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the begining of book was good but the rest of book the book author was repeating herself. However i can totally relate to some of her grief and frustrations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the back of this memoir at the libray and excitedly checked it out. I was extremely disappointed. The author rarely talks about her actul husband or tells the reader about what he was like. It's all about me, me, me - even before he died. It is understandable that she is in grief and pain, but she barely even mentions how she misses her husband; it's all about HER loss and HERself. She takes out her anger on everyone - she bashes her mother in law and her sister in law (whom I assume will eventually read the terrible stuff she said about them), everyone who offends her at the grocery store ("No one understands what me, me, me is going through!"), and even goes as far as to despise Faith Hill as she is watching the Oprah Show because Faith's life is SO perfect with Tom McGraw, and the author's life is the very opposite. The language is harsh, and her blunt honesty comes across as extremely rude. She never stops to consider how others may be feeling. I am sorry for her loss, but she writes very self centeredly. I had to quit reading.
Maddie44 More than 1 year ago
This is going to sound terrible, because i know what she went through is devastating, but she sounds like a terrible immature spoiled child. Every page is "poor me" "I'm the only one in the whole world that has had a loved one die" - Boo hoo bad things happen every day - get over yourself. The way she talks about his mother and sister is terrible - she should be ashamed of herself.
Alisia Fox More than 1 year ago
I am 50 pages into this book so far. I found myself sucked in after page one. I couldnt look away. I got the sample and im going to finish the book. Ive never reviewed a book before i read it but im only seeing one other review and its very negative. I lost my sister and several other people close to me. This book so far is gripping. No one can truely understand where shes coming from unless you have lost a mate. I applaud the author for reveiling feelings that most people wouldnt dream of. Everyone has different opinions. We all cant like the same things. Some people might not care for this book, but i read reviews on amazon n they are great. Either way this book will b epic to some people. It could really get some people through hard times. Even if i read the rest of the book n lose interest, ill still give it a good rating because someone needed to write a book like this to help others
QueenOfMay More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Even though our ages are quite different and our losses had different causes, she captured the pain and frustration of my loss as if she had interviewed me for the book. From her stupid decisions to her baby steps towards restored sanity, I was encouraged to see that I was not alone. Long after finishing the last page, I carried Signs of Life with me everywhere as a touchstone to remind me that I would probably not always curse God or stare into space for hours or cry. As to her detractors, listen! A memoir should show us the author's warts. If he or she isn't revealing their less pretty behaviors, you probably picked up a novel that was improperly shelved. I found Ms. Taylor to be genuine and painfully honest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had just finished reading Two Kisses for Maddie which was amazing and was looking for the same type of book, this was not it. I agree with what others say in she really never talks about her husband or her son. It is more about her students and what book they are reading in her class. I just could not connect with her at all as the author, although I can sympathize with the situation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She isnt a world class writer but her story is captivating because its so real.
flteacher4 More than 1 year ago
This book was a pick for our book club and I am so happy it was chosen! I loved the author's witty personality and raw writing style. She really just let it all out, the good and the bad, which I think makes this book very real, yet insightful as to the grieving process. I loved how she used books, especially classic literature, as a form of therapy for her. I couldn't put the book down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Signs of life was brillant at first as natalie taylor tells the tragic display of misery put upon her. But now as I realize, many times in the story she felt so bad for just herself when a lot of people in the world have had so much more misery. But she wrote a story of how her life was "like tootally over and I will never be happy again." Even though, the story was just about a number of amount of emotions and complains, Natalie Taylor deserves three stars for overall representing herself to represent many people throughout thr world so I give Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor.
NenaKS More than 1 year ago
Natalie Taylor's tale of love at it's very best and very worst is excellently written with raw emotion, blunt honesty, and biting humor. I would recommend this book to anyone for a better insight into what it's like to have your heart's content one minute, and then have it ripped out of your chest the next. Very honest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this for book club and found it to be an excellent read. Need to understand the book is written at the time everything is going on. Lead to great discussions in book club.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ok book, but sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting, honest, and open memoir. I loved "watching" the author move through her grief into hope.
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ALSNY More than 1 year ago
superb
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