Signs of Life

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Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor, book reviewSigns of Life by Natalie Taylor is an autobiographical account of sixteen months of the authors life, starting on the day her husband Josh died, and ending on their sons first birthday. At the age of 24, Natalie suddenly found herself widowed and pregnant.

When I was offered the chance to read and review Signs of Life, my initial reaction was that Natalie’s story is similar to that of a former colleague who lost her partner shortly after their daughter’s birth. I remember the grief that struck the office at that time, and I felt drawn to Signs of Life, to find out just how someone could cope with such a tragedy.

Natalie’s account is based on what she wrote every day during this period. She did not write Signs of Life retrospectively; the emotions and thoughts were current. We see her grief and her reactions to people (most notably her mother- and sister-in-law) change as time goes by.

Signs of Life is not an easy read, but it is compelling, addictive and strong.”

Signs of Life provokes an incredible range of emotions. Sadness and a feeling of devastation that someone the same age as me should have to go through this; anger at Natalie’s loss; happiness when she has a good moment, and an overwhelming combination of joy and sadness at the birth of her son, Kai. I was sitting on the tube to work when I read about his birth, and I was in very serious danger of bursting into tears. I was so happy that Natalie had this wonderful baby, that part of Josh could be with her in Kai, but also so incredibly sad that Josh never got to hold his son, that Kai will grow up only knowing his father through other peoples memories.

Natalie teaches English in high school, and so throughout Signs of Life she writes about the works her students are studying, and how often they speak to her during this period of her life. She is a very thoughtful person, and asks a lot of questions about these literary works, their authors and characters.

Signs of Life is so open and raw, with Natalie holding nothing back, that I truly feel like I know her now, that she is my friend. Numerous times through the book I wanted to be able to reach out and hug her, to somehow help her through the grief and pain. Despite being a powerful piece of writing Signs of Life is also understated – Natalie’s style is like she is talking to a friend, which you would expect from what is basically a diary. It is not full of heavy statements about loss and grief, but rather a young woman trying to understand what has happened and how life goes on from here.

As I write this I worry that I am not doing justice to the emotional rollercoaster that is Signs of Life, that I cannot express well enough just how it made me feel. Natalie Taylor has lived through the loss of her husband, and giving birth to their son alone – I admire her enormously for her strength, I rage that this happened to her, I smile knowing that she has Kai. Signs of Life is not an easy read, but it is compelling, addictive and strong.

Signs of Life by Natalie Taylor
Published by Two Roads, July 2011
Many thanks to Two Roads for providing a review copy of Signs of Life.

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Signs of Life
by Natalie Taylor

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Written by eilidhcatriona

A Scottish lass in her late twenties living in London. A prolific reader always interested in something new.

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