Verdict: Maybe I was too excited. But still good.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Published by Tinder Press, August 2017
I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Intelligent, insightful, inspirational, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.
A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.
It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?
I might have been too excited about this. I have been looking forward to this memoir ever since I first saw this stunning cover. I finally caved in and bought myself a copy and started it the moment it arrived. And I enjoyed this. But it wasn’t quite the revelation I was maybe expecting.
I love the framing of this memoir: Maggie O’Farrell tells her story as a series of essays, each concentrating on a near death experience. I do like memoirs that play with format and I enjoyed the unchronological way this book is structured a whole lot. Especially the four essays bookending this memoir were absolutely incredible. The first essay sets the tone and shows the danger of being a woman on her own, while the last two essays change the way I understood this work and this woman. I love that in books.
The structure, while one of the biggest advantages of this, also works against the reading flow in parts. While I was fine with the last essays changing a lot of what came before, in parts the essays don’t feel quite complete without the recontextualization the ending offers.
This is very readable, easy to dip in and out. It just is not the best memoir I have read this year (and I thought it would be a contender). I do read an awful lot of memoirs though, so your milage might vary.
Also, one final comment: I love, love, love the cover. The whole book is just ridiculously stunning.
First sentence: “On the path ahead, stepping out fom behind a boulder, a man appears.”