I AM I AM I AM by Maggie O'Farrell

Having not read any of Maggie O'Farrell's novels, I wasn't sure what to expect from her book I AM I AM I AM.  A memoir, this collection of stories illustrates seventeen brushes with death and their affect on O'Farrell's life (emotionally and physically). Thank you Aaknopf of my free copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Each of the stories, some shorter than others, left me with a sense of fear, disbelief, anxiety. O'Farrell writes beautifully and in such a way that you can almost place yourself in her shoes. Reaching for those silver steps under the water, frantically searching for the lock button in your car, hoping against hope that man on the path means you no harm. A few of the stories left me shocked, I can't imagine all seventeen of these scenarios playing out in my own life. Even one or two of them would be more than enough for a person to rationalize. 

"If you are aware of these moments, they will alter you. You can try to forget them, to turn away form them, to shrug them off, but they will have infiltrated you, whether you like it or not." p.32

I sought out this book specifically because of my own experience following the birth of my son five years ago. An event that did not go as planned for myself and left me feeling shocked, pieces of myself strewn about that I clumsily tried to pick up and put back together in the first weeks and months at home with my brand new baby. Knowing one of O'Farrell's stories centered around her own near death labor experience, I was curious. I wanted to read this not just for the "what happened" but for how she put herself back together afterwards. There are few people in my own personal life I can discuss this topic with in any sort of depth, when it comes to having someone truly understand my own feelings. 

When I finally reached the last story, I was tempted to go back and reread a few of chapter. By the end O'Farrell's words had crescendoed to a larger sense of hope. This woman who had escaped deaths grasp so many times, in moments that had one thing or the other happened instead....well it just puts life in perspective. Her strength to battle on, knowing that death can be around any corner at any time (she has proof!) is truly inspiring. Im sure that many people would have been crushed under the weight of just some of those experiences, let alone all of them. I spent a lot of time discussing some of this with my husband as I was reading, including a few "what would you do" moments. One of my favorite parts of reading a good book is wanting to share it with him, to discuss what is happening in a story or bounce my thoughts off of him. 

Thank you Aaknopf for this copy! I truly enjoyed reading it. 

I AM I AM I AM by Maggie O'Farrell
Published by Aaknopf
304 pages


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