Friday, July 8, 2016

Book Review: Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin

You know I love memoirs. They are my absolutely favorite thing to read. And while the publisher I now work at doesn't publish many, they do publish a few, so I jumped on them! Poor Your Soul reminded me a lot of What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen, which I loved.

Mira was in grad school and in a new relationship when she discovered she was pregnant. Luckily, despite the timing, both she and Andrew decided they were happy about the turn of events and would make the best of things. They got engaged and moved in together and started to make plans for how Mira would finish school and if they would move into a bigger place (or at least an apartment without a roommate and a weird landlord.) And then they were for the ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. And the technician wouldn't tell them anything but instead ran for the doctor. Turns out the baby has massive congenital defects that means she will not live. And now Mira and Andrew have to decide what to do and quickly: have an abortion, bring the pregnancy to term and induce, or just let it happen naturally.

Meanwhile, this brings up a lot of feelings for Mira as she's pondering the loss of her unborn child. When she was a teenager, her brother died. And now Mira feels a new connection to her mother, who lost a child. As Mira thinks back to her own childhood, she realizes how much her mother, an immigrant from Poland, struggled and worked for Mira and her brother to have a good life in America. These stories unravel in more or less parallel, even though the manner of each loss is so different. The stories weave together seamlessly. And it's fascinating to see the young adult Mira, an overachiever and rule-follower, was actually the rebellious teenager who did drugs and ran away and lived with her boyfriend. But the loss of her brother changed her life radically, in ways that would have been hard to predict. and that loss means she fully understands the loss she is now facing.

Sad but hopeful, this book joins a large set of books about tragedy and grief in families, and is a worthy companion to them.

This book is published by Soho Press, my employer.

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