Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: Two Kisses for Maddy

I want to say I liked this book more than I did. To be honest, I think the thing which stood in the way the most was the constant (and I don't mean occasional, I mean CONSTANT) barrage of foul language. Sad to say, but true. Perhaps if I had physically read the book instead of listening to it, I might have been able to skip past the language. But, I listened to this one while on the treadmill and winced every time one of my young boys came into the room and I had to hop off to quickly hit the off button. I understand that the author wanted to remain consistent with his personality and personal sense of self-expression, but it was ridiculous. Almost every other word a curse word. Every expression with any oomph to it had to be emphasized with something foul.

Two Kisses for Maddy sounds like a tribute book for a young daughter. In some ways, it was. In other ways, it ended up being a long treatise on the unfortunate death of Maddie's mother just a day after her birth. While Maddie was a focus, as the one thing helping the author get through the chasm of grief left in the wake of her mother's death, she was only a secondary focus (I think I would have liked the book more had she been the primary focus). Instead, the book focused on how difficult it is to get through the act of going on when the death of a dearly beloved spouse shatters your world and leaves you in the throes of inexpressible (expressible only through foul language, that is) grief.

It seems harsh to write critically of a man who is exposing his vulnerability sharing the story of the death of the love of his life. Somehow, I feel I should be able to connect with this man's sorrow and glean something positive from his story. But, in the end, all I felt was guilty for not having to experience the devastation he has encountered. I felt guilty for my many blessings, rather than ready to embrace them more fully. His sorrow is raw and constant. His focus never shifts from himself and who he is in his deep loss. I never really felt he managed to get to a point of redemption. Something bad happened in his life and even though good was in the midst of it, in the form of his sweet child, he never really got to the point of expressing, for anyone else in his shoes, a positive way to move forward or heal from the devastating event. I suppose I wanted him to learn and grow, to have something of real, lasting value to pass on to his daughter. Instead, it ended up being a book I wouldn't want any daughter of mine to read if she wanted to hear the story of her mother's valued life and death.

Yes, I cried in parts, and yes, I was moved for his loss and the incredible blessing of his daughter, but I wanted so much more from this book than it had to offer. I have a friend who is still struggling with the death of his wife. I would never in a million years suggest he read this book, even though he might relate to many of the moments of sorrow. I fear it would feel like a further assault, instead of a balm of comfort and encouragement. My friend has a spiritual source of comfort. That is something this author scorned so much that he boldly outlawed any religious expression from his wife's funeral, with no consideration for those who might have sought such a balm in the face of their perspective of the loss. When I encounter hard times, I certainly hope I can find some redemption to share with others, something to make the pain and loss valuable and constructive. Sadly, I don't think this book ever really got there.

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