A difficult marriage and a terrible tragedy lead a woman to create a new, more spiritual life in this debut memoir.
Even as a teenager, Cooper believed in science and not religion. “I was free to create the life of my choosing,” she writes. The life that she selected appeared perfect on the outside—even as she ignored the signs of problems brewing within. After marrying a kind but troubled man named Jonathan, the young couple moved to Georgia from New Jersey so he could pursue his career as an industrial designer. They lived in the constant shadow of Jonathan’s previous marriage, his young daughter who died, and his manipulative mother—all of which drove him to drink excessively—but the couple managed to establish a stable home for their three boys: Jason, Dane, and Todd. As the boys grew up, Cooper finally came to terms with her husband’s alcoholism after empty bottles of vodka, missing money, and DUIs made it impossible for her to overlook. She now calls this evidence “invitations to step into” her own power in her well-crafted narration that makes her attempt to ignore the problem both relatable and heartbreaking. She eventually put herself through school to obtain an MBA, but the most heart-wrenching event was still to come. Todd, her youngest son, exhibited increasingly erratic behavior throughout his high school years, ending in an unimaginable tragedy. Cooper then takes this catastrophe into unexpected territory in her account as she creates a “second life.” She describes visiting psychics, reading books about reincarnation, and connecting with Todd after his death in ways that make these ethereal ideas feel rational and necessary. In addition, the author skillfully portrays grief and familial strife—common themes in autobiographies—making them engrossing and fresh, particularly the terrifying character of her mother in-law and the devastating scenes that Cooper re-creates after her son’s death. This book also succeeds at standing out from other memoirs with the infusion of alternative spiritual ties that the author considers from a perspective that’s reasonable, emotional, and highly personal.
A moving account that tackles misfortune and spirituality with a smart and engaging point of view.