A debut book intertwines an inspirational manual with the autobiography of a young wife.
Early in her narrative, Holm recalls the impatience and near desperation she felt about wanting to find a good man, marry, and start a family with him. For far too long, prospects seemed grim, but then she met a man named Anthony, who eventually (although not soon enough to suit the author’s impatience) proposed to her. The two were on their honeymoon when they received news from their doctors about prospective pregnancies: each of them carried a recessive gene for a deadly infant malady, meaning that there was a 1 in 4 chance any baby of theirs would be born with the disorder and die within a year. The news was devastating, and Holm tried to calm herself through a combination of personal balance and lessons gleaned from various self-help authors. She recounts events that happened during this and every other stage of her marriage while at the same time trying to impart lessons to her readers about the things those incidents taught her. Thanks to her considerable narrative gifts, this pairing of story and lesson works unusually well throughout. “When your mind begins to race and your heart starts to feel the weight of fear, you are either gripping onto the embers of your past mistakes, or your thoughts are reeling for a future that cannot be controlled,” she writes about those horrible days spent trying to make herself enjoy her time with Anthony regardless of how her future pregnancies went. “In order to get a hold of your anxiety, you must learn to become present.” Each of the book’s chapters ends with a “Trail Journal” of questions designed to get readers thinking about how Holm’s experiences might raise issues in their own lives. The pedagogical aspect of this is saved from any hint of condescension by the approachable way the author tells her own tale, warts and all, and by the frequent glints of humor. “Germany was surprisingly pleasant,” she writes. “It wasn’t as German as I thought it would be.”
A winningly personal guide to dealing with life’s pitfalls.