Before I get into my review of this lovely memoir, I have to preface this post with with some words about my own life, as my personal life greatly influences how this book made me feel.
3.5 weeks ago, I delivered my firstborn into this world. His name is Jonah Asher, and he was born sleeping. I was 30 weeks into my pregnancy when his sick heart gave up <3 He had been sick since week 18, and we fought long and hard. We miss him so, so much…he’s our angel baby now.
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken is a beautiful memoir about loss, grief, and hope. It’s the story of her first pregnancy that ended in tragedy when her little boy was born still. Her pregnancy and birth story all happen in France, as that’s where she and her husband were living at the time, working on writing their books.
Yes, this part of the story is heartbreaking, but she also writes about hope. She and her husband still wanted to have a child after their loss, so she writes about the (guarded) hope they felt for their second child, and about how terrified she was during that pregnancy. Her second child is born healthy, and brings them so much joy.
The story jumps between past and present, which I really liked – it’s like she’s sitting in the room with you, telling her story. Her writing is clear and matter-of-fact, which I also appreciated. No bells and whistles needed when telling a story like this one…I loved how frank she is.
Above all, though, what really matters here is that she shared this story with the world. Her story of stillbirth, grief, hope and love is exactly what I needed to read after the loss of my son, Jonah. Going through stillbirth is one of those things that you just can’t fathom until it happens to you, and I sincerely hope it never does! It’s stories like McCracken’s that help us who’ve experienced this understand that we’re not alone: not even close.
I recommend this book for anyone who’s going through the loss of a baby, or even the loss of a close loved one. Or, heck, if you just want to read an emotional memoir, pick this up. It’s a quick read, but it’s one that will stick with you for a long time.