☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars☆➹⁀☆☆
What it’s about:
Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.
Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?
I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi is a thought-provoking read and an outstanding debut novel. The story telling is engaging, and the multi-character narration truly adds depth to the tale. Daughter, Eve, and husband, Brady’s raw, contemplative inner-dialogue is particularly affecting. Their sadness, guilt, and confusion over Maddy’s death is heart-wrenching.
This book spoke to me. The under-appreciated wife and mother. The unstated thanks. The individual who became invisible as soon as she married and had children. I appreciated Ms. Fabiaschi’s slow reveal of Maddy as a human through her family’s reading of her personal journal. The journal entries, her family’s memories, and Maddy’s ethereal musings paint the picture of a complete person not just the aspects to which various people in one’s life are exposed. This very personal read made me contemplate my relationships with my husband and children. I saw the similarities in behaviors, but I also saw the universal truth in Maddy, Eve and Brady’s relationships. The story is simultaneously hopeful, humorous, and gut-wrenchingly sad. It makes you question yourself. Have you showed your loved ones ample appreciation? Have you told them, in specific terms, what they add to your life?
One amazing result of Maddy’s passing is that her family tunes in. They get more involved. They become more thoughtful. It is unfortunate that it took Maddy’s tragic and unexpected death for them to appreciate her and each other. I loved that the survivors pick up the slack instead of falling apart. All too often, a story that starts with a death, depicts the slow downward spiral of the surviving family members. Eve and Brady show Maddy’s fading specter that they really did notice all that she did for the family…they just never took the time to appreciate the effort or tell her as much.
I liked the little twist at the end of the story, and I loved that the story didn’t get a perfectly wrapped up happily-ever-after ending. There was closure without the story becoming trite and predictable. I appreciated this story and its messages of love, appreciation and forgiveness. I Liked My Life has stuck with me, and it keeps calling to me to re-read it. I look forward to my re-read as well as upcoming works by Ms. Fabiaschi.
Expected publication: January 31st 2017 by St. Martin’s Press