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Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken

Before this memoir even starts, we know that it is going to be sad and a baby is going to die.  Following that first chapter, Elizabeth McCracken takes us on an emotional, brutally honest, heartrending journey through the loss of her first baby and the survival of her second, as she comes to terms with her loss (which will never go away) and ends up with a happy life.

If I was someone who regularly cried through books, this one would have had me going the entire way.  As it was, it was so sad, like a window into the soul of this woman whose first child was stillborn.  I recognize the feelings of a bereaved parent perhaps better than most, having watched my parents continue to go through it (although every grief is certainly different), and she struck perfectly, painfully true.  People don’t know how to react to grief, and those parts hurt more than the rest; the friends who simply weren’t there, who acted like it had never happened.  I’m sure most of us have lost someone, but I had never lost anyone until my brother died and it astonished me how many “friends” I had who didn’t say a word, while people barely on the edge of my acquaintance went out of their way to help however they could.  Elizabeth’s experience as she realized who was there for her and who was not was so moving; I can’t imagine the difficulty of telling people who expected her to be a happy mother with a healthy baby that her child had passed away.

I thought the worst part was when Elizabeth knew her child had died and still had to give birth to him.  What a horrible, horrible experience.  I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her tight, even though I’ve never met her and probably never will.

Finally, I think reading about Elizabeth’s experience is important; since we struggle to deal with bereaved parents, her memoir will help us to understand just a tiny bit of what they may be feeling.  I’d recommend it, but not if you’re looking for light reading. Buy this book on Amazon.

Thanks to Miriam Parker of Hachette Book Group USA for organizing this blog tour and sending this book to me!   For more opinions and reviews, here are some other blogs on the tour:

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2 comments to Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, Elizabeth McCracken

  • I thought her comments on what she wanted people to say vs. what people said were very interesting because I (like most people) never know what to say during times of grief.

  • Wow – you really gave me a good idea of what this book is about, and made me want to read it. It does sound like a difficult story to read, imagine how difficult it must have been for her to write! Insight into a greiving parent/sibling/spouse’s thoughts could push us all to say/do better when we are in a position to comfort.