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Signs of Life: A Memoir

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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 the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months “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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“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 “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.

30 review for Signs of Life: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    drazz

    I was a student in her 11-1 Honors English Class at BHS in 2008-2009, & I can say I had no clue what was going on in Mrs Taylor's world. I originally read it to see if I recognized the students / to hear what exactly happened (I heard rumors, I wasn't even 100% certain that her husband had actually passed away). ...seriously. Wow. It's like sitting down and talking to her. It's so honest, each page cut me to the bone. I usually have something negative or critical to say about the things I've read I was a student in her 11-1 Honors English Class at BHS in 2008-2009, & I can say I had no clue what was going on in Mrs Taylor's world. I originally read it to see if I recognized the students / to hear what exactly happened (I heard rumors, I wasn't even 100% certain that her husband had actually passed away). ...seriously. Wow. It's like sitting down and talking to her. It's so honest, each page cut me to the bone. I usually have something negative or critical to say about the things I've read. This time I feel like writing her a letter to tell her how much she's helped me- both as my high school english teacher, and later as a disembodied voice through this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone currently going through a loss or a major transition. Parts are really difficult to read (emotionally), especially if the reader is already in some sort of crisis of their own. By the end, however, we are reminded why life needs to be lived passionately. I barely can write about this. I'm blown away by it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    J

    Local book. Seemed to be getting decent reviews... disappointing. I suspect the good reviews were friends and family who were supporting her out of sympathy. I'm sorry her husband died, but this woman is not an author. She does not display any writing talent and does not succeed in making me care about her - despite her obvious tragic tale. In fact, I loathed her by the time this book was done. She behaved like a teenager in the worst sense with an annoying overuse of nicknames and clique-mentali Local book. Seemed to be getting decent reviews... disappointing. I suspect the good reviews were friends and family who were supporting her out of sympathy. I'm sorry her husband died, but this woman is not an author. She does not display any writing talent and does not succeed in making me care about her - despite her obvious tragic tale. In fact, I loathed her by the time this book was done. She behaved like a teenager in the worst sense with an annoying overuse of nicknames and clique-mentality. People either were "totally loyal" to her (proven by dropping everything anytime she calls) or she didn't care about them. She treated it like a deep betrayal when people went on with their lives and didn't remain at her beck and call. She showed no patience for people who didn't know how to act around her (she calls these people inauthentic and treats them like lepers). In fact, she displays no sympathy for anyone - including her husband's family and friends who were probably also grieving his death. She is totally self-absorbed, self-indulgent and selfish. Her pain doesn't generate anything beautiful and interesting. People grieve in different ways, so I wouldn't blame her for reacting this way, if she had the wisdom to keep it private. But she wrote a book and is advertising her immature behavior! Sorry for your loss, but the world doesn't revolve around you. And you have no writing skills. HATED this book. I got it for free, but I want the time back that I wasted reading it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    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 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.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ciara

    so, this is a year & a half in the life of a woman whose husband unexpectedly died in a freak skateboarding accident while she was four months pregnant with their first child. i mean, how can i mark something like that down on stars? that would be one of my all-time worst nightmares. the book opens with natalie getting the news about her husband's death while she is vacationing in florida with her family. they all rush back to michigan, where they agree to suspend life support & donate josh's org so, this is a year & a half in the life of a woman whose husband unexpectedly died in a freak skateboarding accident while she was four months pregnant with their first child. i mean, how can i mark something like that down on stars? that would be one of my all-time worst nightmares. the book opens with natalie getting the news about her husband's death while she is vacationing in florida with her family. they all rush back to michigan, where they agree to suspend life support & donate josh's organs. & then natalie has to get through the remainder of her pregnancy & adjust to life as a 24-year-old widow. she is very fortunate in that both family & josh's family & her extended network of friends all rally around her & try to provide her with whatever support she needs. she lives with her parents for several weeks after josh's death because she can't bear the thought of going back to the house they shared. she finally moves back in after her mother-in-law redecorates for her. on the recommendation of her OB/gyn, natalie starts seeing a therapist, which seems to do her a world of good as she attempts to move through the grief & prepare for single motherhood. once her son is born, she joins a single moms' support group. the descriptions of the support group are one of the places where the book gets kind of dicey. the other women in the support group are pretty young (not that 24 years old is like methuselah in the mothering community or anything--i think that is HELLA young to be having babies), & most of them are single moms because they have split up with their baby daddies, generally after relationships that weren't that great to begin with. this book was drawn from a diary that natalie kept in the moment, & she writes pretty honestly about feeling like she didn't belong with these single moms. that she wasn't like them because she would be parenting with her husband if he hadn't died, & she's not a teen mom, & she has more class privilege than they do. a person who is remotely interested in social justice or people not being assholes could easily start to lose sympathy for natalie here, because she does seem really selfish & full of herself. but as the book goes on, you start to realize that she makes a lot of snap decisions about who does & does not belong in her life, who is & is not similar to her, but she is open to revising those decisions. i have only experienced one significant death in my life--my dad died right after i turned 23. i can vouch for the fact that death makes a person, sometimes, a little bit selfish. it's difficult to consider other people's feelings when your own feelings seem to be taking up all the space in your body & then some. & i think especially when you are dealing with a totally shocking, unexpected death (my dad dropped dead of a heart attack one day while brushing his hair), it's also pretty normal to try to start drawing lines in the sand & trying to define everything & everyone around you, just to try to make some sense of the world & your place in it, to try to build something that you can hold on to. so i was more than willing to cut natalie a little slack. she is also a high school english teacher & structures each chapter around a book that she especially likes or has taught to her students, drawing connections between its plots, themes, or characters, & whatever is happening in her own journey through grief & motherhood. some other reviewers have complained that these passages are condescending--"who doesn't know the plot of catcher in the rye?" but i felt like natalie really was expressing her own joy & connection to these books, even if they are classics that most americans plowed through in high school. maybe it's a little bit of a gimmick. but i could relate to it & i liked it, & some of her stories from her high school classrooms were really interesting. she actually made me wish that i could be a more patient person, which is not something i think i have ever thought about myself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jackie W.

    A. MAZ. ING. I love this book. I love Natalie Taylor. I wish I could meet her and thank her for being so brave to write a book about something so horrible. I want to thank her for sharing her tears with me. I don't want to tell her things will be okay, because they won't. But I want to tell her that I will remember her husband, Josh, forever. And that seems important, because people can be forever if someone remembers them. I am floored every time I realize that Natalie and I are the same age. Sh A. MAZ. ING. I love this book. I love Natalie Taylor. I wish I could meet her and thank her for being so brave to write a book about something so horrible. I want to thank her for sharing her tears with me. I don't want to tell her things will be okay, because they won't. But I want to tell her that I will remember her husband, Josh, forever. And that seems important, because people can be forever if someone remembers them. I am floored every time I realize that Natalie and I are the same age. She's amazing. I really just love this book so much. I know I just finished it, but it is really good. Taylor is a high school English teacher who is pregnant with her first child. Her husband Josh is killed in an accident. This is the story of the next 14 months. I laughed and cried. Both lots of times. The laughs were good ones, they give the book a perfect amount of levity. So good. Taylor used modern classics to frame each chapter, and it was awesome. In a way only readers can understand, some books seem to find you when you need them most. And some things you read can only be understood after certain experiences. I guess that is part of the ever elusive Human Condition pretentious people are always babbling on about. Maybe not. I don't really like those people so I tend to tune them out. I love, love, love Natalie's family. I'm sorry, her "Family." Read it and you will understand. This book made me appreciate my "Family" more. I just got back from a week and a half of spending time with my people. I never realize how much I miss my people until I am driving away from them. It reminds me of a John Mayer song. "Stop this Train." That song always makes me cry, too. I feel privileged to have spent some time with Natalie's people. I'm comforted knowing she and her son have them. Overall, this book makes me think about a quote I love from "Dawson's Creek." I know, but I love "the Creek." So Dawson's dad died, and it was sudden and horrible. Dawson and Joey are talking about it and she says something about "life and death." And Dawson, in his infinite wisdom, says, "People always talk about Life and Death like they are opposites. But Birth is the opposite of Death. Life has no opposite." Very wise, Mr. Leery. Very wise. "Dawson's" also reminds me of the first time I knew my friends were gonna be my forever people. My roommate, Erin, invited me to her sister's (Laura) apartment that she shared with her high school friend (Amy) to watch the series finale of "the Creek." They had ordered an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen for the occasion and we ate it (we cut the cake into quarters, naturally, no need to save any for later) sitting on Amy's bed watching the end of an era. It was really just the beginning, though. Read this book. It was good. ****************************************** (from when I started it) So far I'm hooked...it is heartbreaking. A customer asked for this book by author...since that rarely happens, I always notice. It was a Discover New Writers pick...also interesting. I read the first 3 pages and had to buy it. So far, so good. I'll probably be crying on the plane tomorrow. I'll just tell people it is because I had to go back to the real world. Vacation over.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    I probably spent half the book fighting back or wiping my tears and the author has a conversational writing style, so it's more like you're talking to her than reading her book. I found this book especially readable as the author is young, speaks frankly and writes openly. I do NOT recommend this book for someone looking for help coping with grief. The author handled her grief in a very specific way which I don't think most people would, and this is not a "self-help" book. Keep in mind, the auth I probably spent half the book fighting back or wiping my tears and the author has a conversational writing style, so it's more like you're talking to her than reading her book. I found this book especially readable as the author is young, speaks frankly and writes openly. I do NOT recommend this book for someone looking for help coping with grief. The author handled her grief in a very specific way which I don't think most people would, and this is not a "self-help" book. Keep in mind, the author was 24 and pregnant when her husband died. Twenty-four is a young enough age where many people haven't experienced a death of someone very close yet, and for that person to be your new husband (still in the honeymoon phase) has to be devastating to a different degree than many people are accustomed to (the part where Ms. Taylor is in the grief group is a great example of this). I appreciate the author's use of some great American novels to illustrate some points. This aspect gave the book another dimension so the story goes beyond "one woman dealing with grief and a baby." I applaud Ms. Taylor's triathlon-ism and she has inspired me to start training for one on my own! Reading a story like this should really make you appreciate what you HAVE.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    I won this book from Goodreads. (It was a Fist Read giveaway.) I was really excited & couldn't wait to read it! I am a big fan of memoirs. The book is written by Natalie Taylor. Natalie is a 24 year old H.S. English teacher who loses her husband Josh in a tragic accident. The young couple had only been married 18 months when Josh passed away. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that Natalie was 5 months pregnant with their first child, a son. I really liked the book in the beginning. I had a lot I won this book from Goodreads. (It was a Fist Read giveaway.) I was really excited & couldn't wait to read it! I am a big fan of memoirs. The book is written by Natalie Taylor. Natalie is a 24 year old H.S. English teacher who loses her husband Josh in a tragic accident. The young couple had only been married 18 months when Josh passed away. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that Natalie was 5 months pregnant with their first child, a son. I really liked the book in the beginning. I had a lot of compassion for Natalie. & in certain ways I felt I could relate to her. I too was a young wife & mother. I had my daughter at 18 & was pregnant with my son at age 24. I was surrounded by my family & my husband's family all the time. (Sometimes it was too much!) While reading I kept thinking about what my life would have been like if I had lost my husband. This made me very emotional. That has nothing to do with why I am only giving this book 2 stars. I'm giving this book 2 stars because by the time I got to the middle of the book I was losing interest & I was starting to lose compassion for Natalie. She just whined and complained too much! She didn't seem to have much appreciation for her family members. I understand that she may have felt smothered at times but I'm sure they meant well. They were trying to help her. Keep in mind that they were also suffering from the tragic loss of Josh. I was also turned off by the vulgar language throughout the book. For me it was too excessive! I made up my mind that I would finish it but had a difficult time getting through the last 5 to 6 chapters. Maybe I would have liked this book more if she would have written more about Josh??

  8. 4 out of 5

    Hanna

    First published on Booking in Heels. This is Natalie Taylor's story. It starts the day her husband dies and ends sixteen months later on their son's first birthday. Natalie's journey from wife to widow to mother is heartbreaking, blackly funny and will move you to laughter and tears as she makes it across that finish line. And you have no doubt she will make it because Natalie is a warrior and a woman to cheer for. I can't help but cringe as I type out that summary. It's just awful. Although it's First published on Booking in Heels. This is Natalie Taylor's story. It starts the day her husband dies and ends sixteen months later on their son's first birthday. Natalie's journey from wife to widow to mother is heartbreaking, blackly funny and will move you to laughter and tears as she makes it across that finish line. And you have no doubt she will make it because Natalie is a warrior and a woman to cheer for. I can't help but cringe as I type out that summary. It's just awful. Although it's fairly accurate about the plot, the tone of the book is absolutely nothing like that. To start, it's not funny. It's just not, in any way, shape or form. Secondly, the last sentence makes Signs of Life seem like some empowering, feminist self-help novel about coping with grief, and it's not that either. It's just a perfectly average woman writing about the sixteen months after her husband, Josh, dies. I wouldn't describe her as a warrior and yes, she is a woman to cheer for - but so is every widowed, pregnant newly-wed. The theory goes that every word of this book (minus a few name changes) is completely identical to her diary entries of the time, but obviously I'm not sure how true that is. On one hand, some parts (particularly the ending) seem so unrealistically twee that I can't help but think they're completely fictional. They just tie in too neatly with the whole 'woman finding herself after tragedy' shtick, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, there are parts that I most certainly would have edited out if I were Natalie Taylor and not dedicated to preserving the truth. I understand that her husband and father of her unborn child had just been killed, but the abuse she subjects her in-laws to in this book is horrendous. She just can't seem to understand that Josh's other family members are suffering too - she doesn't appreciate anything they do for her and constantly insults their very personalities. She's just so ungrateful and whiny. I'm not criticising her attitude per se - obviously I've never been widowed at 24 and so can't judge the feelings of those who have. I just wonder at her judgement in choosing to publish something that can only serve to alienate those trying to help her. Mrs Taylor is also incredibly judgemental about anybody who isn't... well, Mrs Taylor. She joins a support group for single mothers and spends the entire time complaining how their situations can't possibly relate to hers because she's not a) 18 (in fact, she's an oh-so-worldly 24) and b) she didn't choose to raise her baby alone. This actually grated on me quite a lot - who says that the other women there were responsible for their own situations? Natalie does eventually come to terms with this, but for me the damage was already done. Anyway. It's a very accessible read and I did get In The Book Zone while reading it. It uses a very chatty tone and it's easy to get sucked in. The English teacher aspects of the book are interesting, if not always relevant, as she talks a lot about the books they're studying in class, like The Great Gatsby and The Scarlet Letter. Thing is, unlike most books about books, she actually explains what they're actually about instead of assuming you already know. Must be the English teacher in her coming out. Her opinions of her students are also interesting, but it says a lot that the thing I liked most about Signs of Life are the parts unrelated to the actual topic. The best way I can explain it is that I liked Signs of Life, but not Natalie Taylor. I finished it in a day and a half, but it's not something I'd ever want to read again.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This was extremely difficult to read, but it was one of the most amazing and important books that I've ever read. Death is a subject not many of us like to discuss because it is painful to admit that we have no control over our own, or our loved ones' passings. Death is final and is full of the unknown, which makes us fear it and seek to do everything in our power to avoid it. Isn't that why we look both ways before crossing the street, exercise regularly, eat our fruits and veggies, and basical This was extremely difficult to read, but it was one of the most amazing and important books that I've ever read. Death is a subject not many of us like to discuss because it is painful to admit that we have no control over our own, or our loved ones' passings. Death is final and is full of the unknown, which makes us fear it and seek to do everything in our power to avoid it. Isn't that why we look both ways before crossing the street, exercise regularly, eat our fruits and veggies, and basically avoid anything dangerous? However, death is ultimately unavoidable, for all of us. And sometimes it comes when we least expect it and rips our loved ones from our arms before we even realize what has happened. This occured to Natalie Taylor, who at age 24 and 5 months pregnant, lost her husband to a tragic accident. This memoir takes us on her journey, from the night she learned of her husband's death, to a little over a year later, as she grieves and rebuilds her life with her newborn son and with the strength and help of friends and family. This book was very difficult to read, there's no denying it. I am lucky enough (and feel even luckier after reading this) to have a wonderful and healthy husband, so having to think about what life would be like if he were taken from me was extremely difficult to think about. I cannot even imagine what living it was like for Natalie, and I admire her strength and perservence to keep going and to rebuild. I am not sure I would have that same strengh if I were in her position. Natalie's strength comes from her friends and family, along with the texts she discusses in her high school English class, which she finds new meaning and insight from. She also gains a great deal of her strengh from her son, whose presence breathes new life into Natalie. This is certainly a story of hope and of appreciating life despite extremely difficult circumstances. This book connected to me on a number of levels. First, it is set in Michigan, in the area where I grew up. I know the cemetary where Natalie's husband's ashes were laid. I know the church where Natalie has her grief group. She talks of how amazing up north Michigan is, and I spent most of my childhood summers up north. Natalie seems like someone I grew up with, though we never met. Secondly, Natalie is a high school English teacher and I am a college English teacher. The texts that Natalie discusses in her classes are texts I read in high school as well, and the way she connects to Literature and speaks about how Literature can teach us is exactly why I got into the English teaching profession. Natalie got me to see and appreciate my old high school books like Of Mice and Men and A Separate Peace far more than I ever did before. She reminded me why I love this profession and how important it is for us to have a relationship with Literature. Sometimes, books are the only guides we have when life gets tough. I recommend this memoir to all; especially if you've ever suffered a loss, especially if you're from Michigan, and especially if you have a passion for Literature. Death is certainly not a fun subject to read and think about, but it's important for us to think and speak about it because it's inevitable. I am thankful to have read this book, even though it led to a lot of tears, because while the center theme is about struggling to rebuild after a tragic death, it also teaches a great deal about the preciousness of life. And that is certainly something we should never ever forget.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Kline

    For more of my reviews, please be sure to visit my book review blog, Bookerella I received this book free through Shelf Awareness (big thanks go out to them, the publisher, and the author!!). In this memoir we meet Natalie who, at the young age of 24, has lost her husband of 1 1/2 years, Josh, to a tragic accident. Her life has been completely flipped upside down and she feels like she can't do anything without him. With a baby on the way, she knows she needs to get it together, but after Josh's For more of my reviews, please be sure to visit my book review blog, Bookerella I received this book free through Shelf Awareness (big thanks go out to them, the publisher, and the author!!). In this memoir we meet Natalie who, at the young age of 24, has lost her husband of 1 1/2 years, Josh, to a tragic accident. Her life has been completely flipped upside down and she feels like she can't do anything without him. With a baby on the way, she knows she needs to get it together, but after Josh's death she just kind of goes through the motions of day to day life, a shell of her former self. When her son Kai is born, she keeps it together enough to take care of him, but the normal daily tasks she has to complete along with taking care of a newborn is just overwhelming for her. She's still grieving and she doesn't know how she'll ever be able to move forward with her life. With the help of her quirky family (and her own imagination), she begins to heal slowly but surely. My review: I was really excited to get this book! I love reading memoirs and this one sounded interesting and heartbreaking at the same time. I couldn't really relate to Natalie, because I've never really had to deal with the death of anyone close to me (except for my grandpa, but I was very young at the time and barely remember). It's tough to imagine my husband (or my son) dying, I hate to even ponder what life would be like. I imagine it would be a lot like Natalie's life after Josh's death, just going through every day but not really living. Every holiday makes her break down because he's not there, every picture she sees of him reduces her to tears, pretty much breathing reminds her that he's no longer here with her. And I don't blame her for denial; you always think these bad things happen to other people. They will never happen to you; the bad news is they can and sometimes do. Honestly, did have some trouble getting through this book. Natalie's commentary was funny at times and it was interesting to see her work toward finding herself again after Josh's death. Unfortunately at times it was repetitive and dull. I hate to even say that because I don't want to come off as insensitive, I definitely feel for Natalie and what she went through. Basically this book was derived from her journal she kept after losing Josh, so it's like a big jumble of everything she was thinking and feeling at the given time. While extremely interesting, it just didn't capture my attention very well. I definitely did get some important insight though after reading this book. The best one is when Natalie is thinking back to the days leading up to Josh's death, trying to remember what they did in those days. You never know when a life will end, so make sure to live your days to the fullest and keep your loved ones close. My rating: 3/5 stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Realitytrucks

    I read this as part of a kick I was on for grief/widow's Memoirs (Joyce Carol Oates, Sally Ryder Brady, Joan Didion, etc) The other women were older, and all were Writers. Taylor is an English teacher (the texts she's teaching become a laborious device -- she had a dream of a different life AND ... so did Gatsby). This author was a 20-something pregnant Mom-to-be when her husband died in a freak carveboarding accident (like skateboarding? But more Xtreme?) Except, how Freakish is an accident wh I read this as part of a kick I was on for grief/widow's Memoirs (Joyce Carol Oates, Sally Ryder Brady, Joan Didion, etc) The other women were older, and all were Writers. Taylor is an English teacher (the texts she's teaching become a laborious device -- she had a dream of a different life AND ... so did Gatsby). This author was a 20-something pregnant Mom-to-be when her husband died in a freak carveboarding accident (like skateboarding? But more Xtreme?) Except, how Freakish is an accident when someone consistently approaches a sport that involves high speeds and pavement with NO HELMET?! Of course he did not deserve to die for that, any more than she deserved to be a widowed single Mom. But the tragedy belies the traces of the casual recklessness of a young couple at the center of a social circle populated by endlessly irritating nicknames that are impossible to track, where dogs get shipped off to trainers to learn to walk off leash, and Summer is still a verb, even if it's Michigan and not the Hamptons. it is a quick read, chronicling the post-tragedy year -- the return to her house and her job, the unloading of the aforementioned dogs to a new owner, and the birth of her son, Kai (not kidding). She goes to weddings which are understandably heartbreaking. She joins a single-Mom group where the other Moms, you know, deserve to be Single. And eventually, she wakes up less paralyzed by loss and grief at the end than she was at the beginning. Of course it isn't fair to review the Writer's personality over the text on the page, to judge a book by how long you'd want to sit and drink coffee with the author. Memoirs ask for that a little more than most forms though, and as such, this one isn't bad, so much as it is not very likable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    I rolled my eyes when I saw the quote by Elizabeth Berg on the cover about seeing if you could stop after one page. I thought yeah right, but that was exactly what happened. I absolutely loved the raw honesty in this book. very quickly I realize Natalies husband would be very close to my age so that sucked me in a bit. in some ways to I did connect to her feelings of grief. I'm not a widow but I went thru a divorce at 26 so there was still a sense of loss and also the feeling of no one else my a I rolled my eyes when I saw the quote by Elizabeth Berg on the cover about seeing if you could stop after one page. I thought yeah right, but that was exactly what happened. I absolutely loved the raw honesty in this book. very quickly I realize Natalies husband would be very close to my age so that sucked me in a bit. in some ways to I did connect to her feelings of grief. I'm not a widow but I went thru a divorce at 26 so there was still a sense of loss and also the feeling of no one else my age knew what It was like to be 26 and divorced. obviously divorce and becoming a widow are two hugely different things but reading this I felt like someone else got some of how I'd felt 5 years ago. I also absolutely love all of her references to books throughout this book. I have read many of the books She mentioned so I liked the little comments and interpretations of books I hadn't read in years. the only part of the book I struggled with was keeping all of her friends and family straight. she is close to an amazing amount of incredible people and many had nicknames. I actually considered making a character chart to keep them straight (but didn't). overall I was just amazed by Natalies strength and courage. She felt like someone who was a friend by the end of the book and is one of the few authors I've felt would be interesting to meet.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    Firstly, for those of you who claim that the book is too depressing, I have to wonder what you expected. This book reads a lot like the journal of a young woman who is navigating her ways through grief, rather than just a memoir. She is at times, whiny, ungrateful, entitled, but I think it is owed to her... I think it is a great testament to her strength that she openly admits that she is pissed off, frustrated with her relatives, and deserving of more. The way the author ties in classic literat Firstly, for those of you who claim that the book is too depressing, I have to wonder what you expected. This book reads a lot like the journal of a young woman who is navigating her ways through grief, rather than just a memoir. She is at times, whiny, ungrateful, entitled, but I think it is owed to her... I think it is a great testament to her strength that she openly admits that she is pissed off, frustrated with her relatives, and deserving of more. The way the author ties in classic literature to her grieving process is, to me, one of the best parts of the book. She begins to see these books that she's read dozens of times in a totally different light. And it's true, when something changes you the way the death of a loved one does, it changes your whole outlook on life and you kind of have to re-learn things. I agree that it would have been nice to know more about her husband (what he was like, what were his flaws), but ultimately I understand that the book wasn't really about him and those memories of him were for her, not for us. Everyone grieves differently and having gone through some serious grieving myself, I could relate to her. I understand how a person who feels differently would not relate to her or like this book, but for me, it was all around uplifting, encouraging, and I really felt like I made a friend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    In the beginning of this book Natalie makes a note that this book is from her diaries and were her actual thoughts at the time and at times do not reflect well on her. This book has a lot of real emotion and at times is very raw. I would recommend this book to others. I felt like I was with her on this journey. She often says talks about the radio shows she listens to and the books that she is reading and relating to these people (or feeling that they are her friends)-this is how I felt througho In the beginning of this book Natalie makes a note that this book is from her diaries and were her actual thoughts at the time and at times do not reflect well on her. This book has a lot of real emotion and at times is very raw. I would recommend this book to others. I felt like I was with her on this journey. She often says talks about the radio shows she listens to and the books that she is reading and relating to these people (or feeling that they are her friends)-this is how I felt throughout reading this book. It is a must read and an incredible journey.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    at the beginning i enjoyed this book, but after a while, it became kind of one dimensional. She never had any insight into her marriage and her dead husband, expect for the perfectness of it and him, and after she gave away her dogs, i kind of lost sympathy for her.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anne (Angel Anne Reviews) Nelson

    Signs of Life: Natalie Taylor I actually won Signs of Life on goodreads as a first-reads giveaway. Many thanks to Natalie Taylor for the opportunity to read your novel/memoir. :-) Twenty-four year old Natalie lived a charmed and beautiful life; a very fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful loving husband, Josh, a new home, plus a new baby on it's way. This wonderful new life came crushing down around Natalie when she was on vacationing in Florida with family (but not Josh) rec Signs of Life: Natalie Taylor I actually won Signs of Life on goodreads as a first-reads giveaway. Many thanks to Natalie Taylor for the opportunity to read your novel/memoir. :-) Twenty-four year old Natalie lived a charmed and beautiful life; a very fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful loving husband, Josh, a new home, plus a new baby on it's way. This wonderful new life came crushing down around Natalie when she was on vacationing in Florida with family (but not Josh) receiving the news that her husband was critically injured and was on life support after a devastating skateboarding accident. Later the decision was made to remove Josh (her husband) from all life support, and donate is organs. You will find yourself crying, (at times) laughing, getting frustrated at Natalie by the way she treats people, (mostly her family who care) then cheering as she starts to finally see “the light” with the help of her support around her. ( a strange group at that) A unique group of people, although strange to me at times. So much pain from her husband’s death; you will go through each pain, each meltdown/breakdown with Natalie, seeing a friend, insight or a passage from literature that in different ways each will help Natalie put one foot in from of the other, to make it through one more day. One day at a time. The recovery process we all must do and go through after such a tragic and life changing event that happens in life. Natalie also has/had a fairy god mother giving her advise, although very blunt and to the point most of the time. (ok, all the time) I laughed and fell in love with this fairy god mother!!! (oh how I wish that I had one in my life) “Signs of Life” is a very RAW journal of Natalie’s journey, and if you can read it as just that… a journal instead of a book you will understand and relate to it more. Have you ever or do you keep a journal? I know I do. We all handle grief of the loss of a loved one differently, and very differently at times to some people, and if you keep this in mind you will understand or accept Natalie’s way or process of her journey to healing. With this being said, all in all I would have to say that “Signs of Life” is a good read, that I truly enjoyed it. Thank you once again Natalie for sharing your journey of loss with me. I would recommend Signs of life to YA and up (because of some of the strong language content) My rating is: 3/5 Angel stars Angel Anne Reviews

  17. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This is a memoir of Natalie Taylor's year of grief after the death of her 27 year old husband. Joshua Taylor was carveboarding without a helmet when he hit his head and died almost instantly. Twenty-four year old Natalie was pregnant with their first child. The book is based on her journal entries in the year or so after Josh's death. The exploration of grief and growth can be a fascinating and painful subject. (No one does it better than Joan Didion) Perhaps it was Taylor's age, perhaps it was This is a memoir of Natalie Taylor's year of grief after the death of her 27 year old husband. Joshua Taylor was carveboarding without a helmet when he hit his head and died almost instantly. Twenty-four year old Natalie was pregnant with their first child. The book is based on her journal entries in the year or so after Josh's death. The exploration of grief and growth can be a fascinating and painful subject. (No one does it better than Joan Didion) Perhaps it was Taylor's age, perhaps it was her inexperience but this was a pretty dull read. It was very repetitive and Taylor comes off as a self-centered, mean girl. She attacks her mother-in-law and sister-in-law with unrelenting venom and appears to have no understanding of THEIR grief. She is judgmental of those in her grief group without appreciating that they lack some of the financial and emotional support that she herself enjoys. (Taylor has an amazing support system of friends and family so I assume she must be a nicer person than she appears.) She also talks down to the reader and feels a need to explain the plots of major literary works (yet her overuse of family nicknames had me craving a cheat sheet... who is Hales again? who is Dubs?) What redeemed this book for me was the ending. As Natalie moves through her grief and becomes a new mother we can see her growth and enlightenment. The last few chapters show her humor and a new embracing of life. She is able to reflect and understand her painful journey. I liked her much better and felt her new maturity. The book is also poorly edited. I cringed when I saw the line "ball my eyes out." Ball??? Natalie is a high school English teacher. I would think she'd have access to some great editing. Best part: Her good friend, Battersby, is experienced at grief and meets with Natalie before the funeral. ".... she told me she was giving me an invisible stack of STFU cards which stands for, 'shut the fuck up.' So when people come up to me and say, 'How ARE you doing?' or 'This was god's plan' or 'why wasn't he wearing a helmet?' I could politely smile and hand them a STFU card." We could all use a stack of those cards. Natalie probably wants to hand one to me right about now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I'd describe this as...well, edgy chick-lit I guess. It's definitely a woman's book, it deals with feelings, emotions, relationships and children. But it is edgy in that it's modern, there's language that normal people use and Natalie has a distinctive way of writing. Plus it's warts and all. Some reviews of this book in Good Reads have criticised her whining and ungratefullness towards her family and in-laws, but I enjoyed that - that's real, to have a love/hate, appreciation but resentment tow I'd describe this as...well, edgy chick-lit I guess. It's definitely a woman's book, it deals with feelings, emotions, relationships and children. But it is edgy in that it's modern, there's language that normal people use and Natalie has a distinctive way of writing. Plus it's warts and all. Some reviews of this book in Good Reads have criticised her whining and ungratefullness towards her family and in-laws, but I enjoyed that - that's real, to have a love/hate, appreciation but resentment towards family. As a lover of books, I liked the way Natlie used novels to explore her feelings. She was 24 - well off, she'd married the guy of her dreams, she was in a secure job and she got pregnant effortlessly. She was teaching English, teaching novels and plays that deal with tragedy and suffering and crises but she had no personal experience of any of that. And suddenly, through her own suffering, she could see the deeper meanings within those works. Natalie learned the hard way, that life is unfair. Being a pregnant widow brought her into a parents group for single mothers, and these were people she would never have associated with previously, and certainly never respected. But she finds commonality with the other single mothers, and she becomes more aware of how luck and fate determine your life, and the choices available. Some small quibbles - yes it did get repetitive, lots of writing about despair and tears. She had a small moment of self-awareness when she realised that Josh (her husband) had done everything - he drove, he made decisions, they did the things he wanted - but she never really explored that. They were together only a few years, they were still at the honeymoon phase. Did she realise that? She comes across very smug, too, but I think that's a cultural thing - as a New Zealander we favour modesty so her writing about finising her college programme in 4 years rather that the usual 6 sounded cringeworth to me, but might not be considered boasting in the US. But overall, if you can say you enjoy reading about the death of someone's husband, well I did!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Angela Risner

    Natalie Taylor, 24 and 5 months pregnant, is awakened by a phone call that her husband has had an accident while Carveboarding. Though no one tells her at that moment, she knows that her life has changed forever. Natalie takes us with her on her journey into life as a young widow and new mother. At her age, she had never questioned that her husband, Josh, would be by her side for many years to come. Now she must learn to navigate her life as a single mother. All of this may sound like the book sho Natalie Taylor, 24 and 5 months pregnant, is awakened by a phone call that her husband has had an accident while Carveboarding. Though no one tells her at that moment, she knows that her life has changed forever. Natalie takes us with her on her journey into life as a young widow and new mother. At her age, she had never questioned that her husband, Josh, would be by her side for many years to come. Now she must learn to navigate her life as a single mother. All of this may sound like the book should only be read by those who want to feel depressed or who have a pessimistic outlook on life. This is not the case. Yes, the facts are grim and you feel sad for Natalie and what she faces. Natalie's writing, though, allows room for hope. She finds strength around her in her large group of friends and family. Her son, Kai, is born and she realizes that even if she were given the chance to be reunited with Josh in heaven, she would fight it to stay with Kai. Natalie has always been someone who moved through life and learning as quickly as possible - taking advanced classes, finishing her degree early, etc. But she quickly realizes that "AP Grief does not exist." She can't rush through this process and get past it. Overall, this is just a beautifully written memoir. Natalie honors her husband and his memory throughout the book, but also conveys the lessons she has learned on this journey. Instead of being morose and depressing, she uses humor and strength to relate her story. I highly recommend it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Milissa

    Loved this book. An honest look at grief. I was surprised by the criticisms in the negative reviews. Yes, there were moments of immaturity...but the author was in the midst of major grief, only 24, and pregnant. By the end of the book, there were many new insights and a deeper understanding of other loved ones' grief. Grief is not rational or thoughtful or insightful. It is miserably painful. People become more compassionate and insightful after experiencing grief...but in the moment, it can be Loved this book. An honest look at grief. I was surprised by the criticisms in the negative reviews. Yes, there were moments of immaturity...but the author was in the midst of major grief, only 24, and pregnant. By the end of the book, there were many new insights and a deeper understanding of other loved ones' grief. Grief is not rational or thoughtful or insightful. It is miserably painful. People become more compassionate and insightful after experiencing grief...but in the moment, it can be difficult to see outside the pain. When something traumatic happens in a family (doesn't have to be death), everyone is going through the stages of grief simultaneously. But everyone moves through the stages at different times. Grief is not linear...people can move back and forth between the stages. Nobody is at the same place at the same time. And people may be grieving different things at different times (loss of health, death, loss of dreams, loss of independence, etc.) This is one reason there are so many misunderstandings between loved ones during these stressful times. This book is honest, often sad, occasionally (snarky) funny, occasionally insightful, and ends with hope. Real life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    At times it was really hard to like Natalie, but since this was written from her journal while she was in midst of the events, it does read as an honest account of what she was feeling. At one point, she mentions that she didn't verbalize these feelings to others; it was purely an internal dialogue. When she brought the books her classes were reading into the story, it actually made me want to re-read (or read) some of these books. While her language sometimes seemed over the top, I identified w At times it was really hard to like Natalie, but since this was written from her journal while she was in midst of the events, it does read as an honest account of what she was feeling. At one point, she mentions that she didn't verbalize these feelings to others; it was purely an internal dialogue. When she brought the books her classes were reading into the story, it actually made me want to re-read (or read) some of these books. While her language sometimes seemed over the top, I identified with the part where one of her friends gave her the imaginary STFU cards to use. It also resonated with me as a family member of someone with a chronic illness. Sometimes you can be grieving for someone who is still alive, but not the person they used to be. Others can think they know what you're going through, but they don't. I have had some of the feelings she talks about, and while I've never spent days or weeks walking around in my bathrobe, her struggles ring true to me. She never claims it was pretty; it was just her story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    DELICIOUS! I couldn't put this book down. When I first opened it I didn't close until somewhere after the 100 page mark. On the first page you find a happily married 24 year old who is 4 months pregnant that finds out her 27 year old husband has just died in a sporting accident. The story is amazingly well written. The author is a high English teacher and as the months pass she draws on the works she is teaching in her class to illustrate a relevant discovery about her own life which both increa DELICIOUS! I couldn't put this book down. When I first opened it I didn't close until somewhere after the 100 page mark. On the first page you find a happily married 24 year old who is 4 months pregnant that finds out her 27 year old husband has just died in a sporting accident. The story is amazingly well written. The author is a high English teacher and as the months pass she draws on the works she is teaching in her class to illustrate a relevant discovery about her own life which both increases the ability to emotionally relate to her story and breathes new life into classic works. Throughout the story you understand her emotions and witness her maturation and broaden her horizons with respect to the analysis of privilege (notably race and class). I read an uncorrected proof so I imagine that the normal print edition must be even better.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Becky Roper

    Awesome book! This is a memoir written about a young wife whose husband dies suddenly while she is pregnant with their first child. The first part of the book was pretty slow as she described in excruciating detail her grief experience. However, as things move along it keeps getting better. The last half of the book was great as long as you can get past her frequent use of the "f" word. She returns to teaching high school literature and her insights into the books she has her students reading we Awesome book! This is a memoir written about a young wife whose husband dies suddenly while she is pregnant with their first child. The first part of the book was pretty slow as she described in excruciating detail her grief experience. However, as things move along it keeps getting better. The last half of the book was great as long as you can get past her frequent use of the "f" word. She returns to teaching high school literature and her insights into the books she has her students reading were great fun to read. I have read almost all of the books she talks about so I really enjoyed it. Her discussions with her students were most interesting. I wish I had had a literature teacher like her! I found her attitudes and viewpoint quite close to my own and enjoyed how she articulated her values.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Traci

    I give it two stars because it *should* have been a great story. It's a memoir and the storyline could be good. However, there were so many spelling and grammar erros, it made it very tough for me to get through it without wanting to highlight errors and return it to the author (or editor). I felt that character development was lacking and thus I really didn't care about anybody in the book. After reading the back of the book, I really wanted to like this. I am glad I didn't spend money on this I give it two stars because it *should* have been a great story. It's a memoir and the storyline could be good. However, there were so many spelling and grammar erros, it made it very tough for me to get through it without wanting to highlight errors and return it to the author (or editor). I felt that character development was lacking and thus I really didn't care about anybody in the book. After reading the back of the book, I really wanted to like this. I am glad I didn't spend money on this book, it was a goodreads win.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Allison Shell

    **I've finished this book. I do not recommend it. By the end of the book, every little thing about this woman irritated me. The only passages that I truly enjoyed were the stories about her students. **I am 3/4 of the way through, and am really not liking this book. Feels like she threw in a lot of filler to make the book longer. Not her fault, but it reads young and bratty.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    I’m giving up on this book. It’s awful. Did you space out in ninth grade English and skip reading all the books? No worries! The author will summarize them all for you here. Missed some episodes of This American Life? Check out this book and see what you missed. And Harry Potter. And Oprah. And Dr. Joy, whoever that is. Even The Godfather. And then there’s the fairy godmother she invents and the conversations they have. The parts of the book where she actually wrote about being a pregnant 24-yea I’m giving up on this book. It’s awful. Did you space out in ninth grade English and skip reading all the books? No worries! The author will summarize them all for you here. Missed some episodes of This American Life? Check out this book and see what you missed. And Harry Potter. And Oprah. And Dr. Joy, whoever that is. Even The Godfather. And then there’s the fairy godmother she invents and the conversations they have. The parts of the book where she actually wrote about being a pregnant 24-year-old wife whose husband died suddenly are honest, raw and moving. But by halfway through the book these passages are so few and far between that I can’t skim fast enough to stay interested.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aparna

    The book is a gem, it makes you delve deeper and realize that like life is a frahile bargain yet the book teaches us that like the lotus where we reach is important and where we come from

  28. 5 out of 5

    Doingitwritenow

    Disclaimer: I have never been in this woman's shoes so I cannot say how I may have felt or what I may have written in my own journals. But let me start by saying that I wanted to like this book. And I wanted to feel more than I felt for Natalie. As it were, I did feel awful for what happened to her husband, Josh, and the hole it created in her and her son Kai's life. But as a person, I had a little trouble drumming up much sympathy. I am sure that she could care less about little old me, as she Disclaimer: I have never been in this woman's shoes so I cannot say how I may have felt or what I may have written in my own journals. But let me start by saying that I wanted to like this book. And I wanted to feel more than I felt for Natalie. As it were, I did feel awful for what happened to her husband, Josh, and the hole it created in her and her son Kai's life. But as a person, I had a little trouble drumming up much sympathy. I am sure that she could care less about little old me, as she shouldn't, but I had a hard time seeing this memoir as "raw emotion." She described herself very accurately at one point when she called herself a "spoiled white woman." Reason #1 Natalie doesn't sound like a nice person: She is so clearly better than anyone else she meets. The single mothers group she joins- ouch. At one point, she makes a comment about how things got uncomfortable with the group once they looked around at her nice, big, fancy house and saw how much they will never have. (I would like to tell her that we all put our pants on one leg at a time.) Reason #2: She has absolutely no regard whatsoever for how her mother in law, Deedee, or her sister in law, Ashley, feel about the loss of their son and brother Josh. Instead, she consistently tears their very character to shreds without much concern for how awful and ungrateful that she sounds (when both Deedee and Ashley sound as though they were consistently supportive of her throughout the ordeal and even set aside their own grief to help her with hers. I hope those relationships survived the publishing of this memoir for Kai's sake.) Reason #3: Natalie absolutely broke my heart with the tale of the stranger who asked her to help her feed her hungry kids in the parking lot of a Starbucks. She simply told the poor woman that she "was sorry" and left her there with a van full of hungry kids. (as if the poor disease was catching or something- she sounds like she literally ran from this situation.) I think my heart actually shattered for those hungry little babies. I could not get that thought out of my head for several days. But that was one of several instances where I was left shaking my head. I accept that some of the anger, etc was actually emotion and grief rearing it's ugly head but her personality sounds too strong to have just turned into this judgmental, spiteful person overnight. I was left feeling most sorry for the loss of Josh who sounded like an amazing man, and I felt sorrier for Kai and all of the things he will miss out on because his father is gone. I would not recommend for someone working their way through grief. It actually left me feeling very yucky.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    I finished this a while ago, but I couldn't think of a good write-up--not sure why. It's an okay read, and interesting how Taylor ties each chapter/month in with a literary work. The thing that got me is how absolutely...white middle-class suburban woman NORMAL she is, or at least, the way I imagine them to be. Maybe she's better off than normal, I don't know. She's thin, blonde-haired, blue-eyed. She was crazy about her well-liked, athletic husband, whom she met in college and married shortly t I finished this a while ago, but I couldn't think of a good write-up--not sure why. It's an okay read, and interesting how Taylor ties each chapter/month in with a literary work. The thing that got me is how absolutely...white middle-class suburban woman NORMAL she is, or at least, the way I imagine them to be. Maybe she's better off than normal, I don't know. She's thin, blonde-haired, blue-eyed. She was crazy about her well-liked, athletic husband, whom she met in college and married shortly thereafter. She shops at Pottery Barn. She vacationed at her parents' & in-laws' camps in the summer, and was a high school teacher during the school year. She is fairly athletic herself, with the ability to pop up at a triathalon training session and put in miles of running & biking with no prior training. (I, on the other hand, would have had to train for the training.) She is relatively intelligent and self-aware, although she has a gaggle of what I would otherwise have thought of as dumb girlfriends. They get together for "girl time" and are bridesmaids in each others' weddings. The grief part, well, I mean, that's the main point of the book. And it's interesting to see how "normal" people grieve & heal. Some of the insights I've had as a depression-prone person with a father dead since I was 5 seem to be new to Taylor in the wake of her devastating loss. It was so interesting to wrap my brain around these ideas being new to her, to think that you could grow to be an educated, married adult with a child and not have thought the things that she only thought after her husband died. Maybe that sounds really bitchy, but I hope not, because I really do mean that it was an interesting experience. I guess part of the reason memoirs *are* so fascinating because they give you insight that is different from your own, and this book certainly did that.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Albion College

    "It took me one day and most of an evening to read Signs of Life, the 2011 memoir by Albion College alum Natalie Taylor. It is that good. Natalie’s story is heartbreaking, courageous, and at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s also true. Natalie was a student of mine, a person I could never forget. Now she’s maybe the best high school English teacher ever, my current students from Berkley High School tell me. I believe it. Signs of Life is Natalie’s story of how she lived through the terrible n "It took me one day and most of an evening to read Signs of Life, the 2011 memoir by Albion College alum Natalie Taylor. It is that good. Natalie’s story is heartbreaking, courageous, and at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s also true. Natalie was a student of mine, a person I could never forget. Now she’s maybe the best high school English teacher ever, my current students from Berkley High School tell me. I believe it. Signs of Life is Natalie’s story of how she lived through the terrible nightmare of becoming a widow when she was only 24 years old and five months pregnant with her son Kai. She was married to Josh Taylor, a handsome young soccer star, also an Albion alum. Her happiness is shattered in one instant and forces her into the unspeakable grief of widowhood. The book is a brilliantly honest account of Natalie’s survival and gradual transformation into a stronger and somehow lovelier person, both marked by loss and newfound hope. Read this book." -Judy Lockyer, Albion College English Professor

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