Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth's husband Ficre died suddenly of a heart attack in 2011. As a poet (you might recognize her name as the poet who read at Obama's second inauguration), she had to write about it. Normally the words "poetic" and "lyrical" make me run for the hills, but Ms. Alexander is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed this tragic memoir, that ultimately is about love more than it is about loss.

She goes back to talking about when they met, how they instantly connected and decided at the end of their first week together that they were going to get married (but they knew that sounded crazy so they didn't tell anyone until 6 weeks later). Ficre was a refugee who'd left war-torn Eritrea and lived in nearly a half a dozen different countries along the way to America, including Somalia, Germany, and Italy. At one point Elizabeth realizes that their entire relationship has happened in his fourth language. He was a chef and an artist. He was a great father to their two sons. And he was so very hard to live without.

I was scared to read this book for a long time because it seemed like it would be terribly sad but a strong thread of hope pervades the book. You know that Elizabeth didn't regret any moment she spent with him and would do it all over again. And along the way, she handles everything with grace and deep emotion that is so relatable and true.

I got this book for free from the publisher at Winter Institute.

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