Review – A Lifetime of Impossible Days

A Lifetime of Impossible Days – Tabitha Bird

I laughed, I cried, I felt every emotion reading this amazing story.  It is whimsical, it is fantastical (is that a word) but at the heart it is a story of trauma and grief and how dealing with the past can have drastic effects on our future.

Tabitha Bird has truly written a masterpiece.  It’s strange, it’s unusual, and it’s hard to put into words how to even describe it but is a truly stunning book.  You really need to let yourself go when reading this, think Alice in Wonderland disappearing down a rabbit hole.  Don’t expect things to make sense.

We meet Willa in 1965 at age 8, in 1990 at age 33 and in 2050 at age 93 when on one impossible day, 93 year old Willa mails two parcels with a note “One ocean; plant in the backyard” setting off a magical time slip that allows Willa to visit her future and past selves. 

Willa at all 3 stages of her life is so full of depth and emotion.  I adored Willa at 93, she was my absolute favourite.  Her sense of humour had me laughing out loud, her strength had me full of admiration for her and her confusion and her fear had me in tears.  I hope at that age I am running around in brightly coloured gumboots or moonboots and possibly ordering a cow for the backyard off a talk-back radio show.

Willa at 8 is the most heartbreaking.  No child should have to know such trauma in their young life.  Feeling responsible for her younger sister, trying to help her mother who has become unable to be there for her daughters both physically and emotionally, all the while living with the terror of a violent father. The abuse was handled with care and was mostly inferred which I also appreciated.  As a reader I could take it as far as I was comfortable with and it was just as impactful without making the whole book disturbing.

33 year old Willa is possibly the most important of all.  The adult who is now a mother herself, who has never dealt with the pain of her past but needs to in order to be able to have a future for herself and her own family.  “I’m not sad or happy…….I’m nothing.  I’ve forgotten how to feel.  I’ve stuffed everything that happened in the past so far inside me.  I’ve stuffed myself inside, too, and now I’m not even me.”

This was one of the very few books I’ve read that after I finished the last page and closed the cover, I put the book down and just sat there.  I really had to process it all.  I still can’t believe it’s a debut. 

To quote 8 year old Willa “amaze-a-loo” I really wish everyone could read this one.  Thank you so much to the author for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for this review.

*****

Review – Tiny Pieces of Us

Tiny Pieces of Us – Nicky Pellegrino

A beautifully written story that really tugs on the heartstrings. 

Born with a life-threatening heart defect Vivi receives a heart transplant, her donor, a 16 year old boy killed in an accident riding his bike home one evening.  Grace, the boy’s mother makes the selfless yet heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to her son and offers his organs so he can give the gift of life to others.  It’s one of the most gut wrenching starts to a novel I have read in a long time. 

A few years later Vivi, working as a journalist for a tabloid newspaper in the UK, publishes an article to raise awareness for organ donations and is soon contacted by Grace.  Her pain is still so raw and so fresh and she is struggling with the decision she made knowing that others now have tiny pieces of her son helping them live and breathe each day.  It has now almost become an obsession, she needs to find and meet these people so she can feel closer to her son again and Vivi is unwittingly thrust into the search with Grace.

Over time we are introduced to the other “organ recipients” for want of a better term.  Each with their own fears and struggles just like Vivi.  Although we don’t learn about the others in as much detail, we understand them as how Vivi sees them and how they fit in with her life, while still understanding the tears, heartaches but also joy they have all experienced at receiving a second chance at life.

The story captures the emotion of Vivi perfectly and how she lives her life with the constant worry of how things could suddenly turn for her, almost an acceptance that her life could still be a short one.  Will her new heart fail?  How can she plan for a future of a long and happy life when her body could reject her heart even years on from her surgery?

As someone who reads a few too many thrillers this was a surprising change of pace for me, one that was full of warmth and emotion and ultimately uplifting.  I thought the author handled the subject of organ donation with absolute care and sensitivity, it made me think of my own mortality and what I could be doing to take better care of myself.  Am I living my best life every day?

Tiny Pieces of Us is published by Hachette Australia and is out now.  Thank you so much for my advanced copy in exchange for my review.

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