Book Review: And Still She Laughs

Whenever I’m facing some big projects, it helps to clean my office, giving me the illusion of being organized, and lulling me into the belief that I might actually be able to accomplish everything. As part of that cleaning project this morning, I’d intended on simply relocating And Still She Laughs from my to-read pile on the floor to a nearby shelf.

Then I opened it.

still she laughs

“The days and weeks following Daisy’s earthly departure were of a strange sort. Hovering in our home was an empty feeling, much like when a door slams shut in your face. You feel the rush of air forcing your hair back for a brief moment, then a wall directly in front of you, so close up that everything else is out of focus. We sat around that first day, drinking coffee and looking about the room, blinking for lack of recognition of our surroundings.”

Four years ago, on August 19, 2013, my daughter Elizabeth faced what this mother faced in February of that same year, the death of a child.

It boggles my mind now; that for most of that July, and part of August, I’d get up in the middle of the night, step into a pair of flip-flops, and drive down the block to see if the lights were on at my daughter’s house. See if she needed me. I slept with the phone near my bed. But for some reason, the morning Jacob died, I’d forgotten. I wasn’t there when the funeral home director tenderly carried Jacob’s body out of house.

Reading Kate Merrick’s story about the death of her daughter Daisy, gave me a glimpse into the unfathomable pain my daughter and son-in-law have lived with since that morning. Like the author, my daughter blogged her way through Jacob’s cancer and made a Facebook Page, “Jacob’s Ladder” to keep people updated. Over 4000 people followed Jacob’s cancer journey, which began in December 2010. When I re-read my daughter’s posts from that period of time, I’m blown away by her strength and faith, just as I am by this author’s.  They would be such good friends if they were to meet, which someday they will, though maybe not here on earth. Two mothers with their eyes on Heaven.

I can only imagine the reunion; Kate and her daughter Daisy, Elizabeth and Jacob. Can’t you imagine the joy in their faces?  You can, when you read this book.

“I can close my eyes and feel Daisy’s warm delicate hand in mine. I feel her velvety hair right underneath my chin, the way I held her on my lap thousands of times. I hold my breath expectantly, certain of her existence, of her aliveness in a place I cannot see. I have my foot lifted, arms out- my stance ready to enter into this wonderful place and catch her at any moment.” (page 187)

That’s faith. Faith means we can grieve, but not without hope. And Still She Laughs is full of hope. You can read more about the author at www.katemerrick.com

Book Review: The Story Cure

“Once you are done writing your book, you aren’t really done writing your book.

Yes, I understand. Being reminded of just how much effort is required ever after you’ve put a period on the final sentence of the final chapter can be downright discouraging.

Revision does take effort and time.” (page 143)

story cure

Dinty Moore’s advice in The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir is right on target. In this collection of cures for writer’s block, plotting and characterization issues, and other ailments writers face when completing a novel or memoir, Moore, the director of creative writing at Ohio University, has detailed answers with examples of good writing from other author’s books.

Whether you write fiction or memoir, you need to be able to tell a story, and this book is a must-read for anyone struggling with writer’s block, problems with their plot or story line, or simply inspiration.

 “Don’t look back ten years from now, however, and think ‘Oh well, I never found the time for my writing. That’s a real disappointment.’ Suppose you had devoted a mere one hour per week to your book over those ten years. That would amount to 520 hours. What could you have written in that time?

Even better, you’ll likely find that the one hour per week stretches into two, or three, or more. Once your heart story, the primal question driving your project comes alive, you’ll want to continue writing. You’ll find the time.” (page 159)

I’d love to take a workshop from this author someday. I’ve always enjoyed reading his essays on writing, and now I’m going to look for more books by him.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for a fair and honest review. I’ll be sharing it with some memoir writers I know.