LIFE LINES by Jill Ireland
Kirkus Star


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In her follow-up to 1987's Life Wish, which detailed her bouts with breast cancer, Ireland hits her stride as a writer and presents a fiercely superior book. At first the reader is sent spinning by italicized stream-of-feelings of a baby during birth; and when these infant roarings keep breaking through the body of the text, one wants to skip quickly to solid earth. But by book's end, these psychic sobbings and rages win through as a just way to dramatize a theme very real to Ireland: the inability of an adoptive mother to replace a natural mother, or to undo genetic and psychic damage visited on the addicted fetus of a drug addict. It's thus an awesome landscape of agony that Ireland sketches in from her past half-century. She picks up at her split from TV-star David McCallum, with whom she had a son and daughter, and the start of her marriage to Charles Bronson, the merging of her children with his, the birth of a daughter to Bronson/Ireland, and later the adoption of a seventh child by a close friend of Ireland's who dies. Highlights here include her elderly father's strokes, paralysis, and aphasia, and the growth of her mother in caring for him; the Bronsons' hyperkinetic adopted son Jason's hereditary "otherness" in the big family, followed by his descent into drags and booze, and by four years of hell he brings to the Hollywood household; Ireland's breast cancer and mastectomy; her illnesses during the promotion of Life Wish, which became a #1 best-seller in the English Isles--she rushes about pushing her inspirational book about cancer recovery while being battered flat daily by her addict son's scams, arrests, hepatitis, and endless woes, and arises time and again from life's crushing complications to spread mothering to every family member. The picture gets very big indeed (with Bronson drawn brilliantly as devil's advocate), but all comes together and delivers like some heart-wringing but heavenly movie-of-the-week that really works and lends life a few chimes. A big winner.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1989
ISBN: 446-51480-2
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