Happy Hump day everyone! I hope your week is going well so far, and that the weekend doesn’t feel too far away. For tonights blog post, I am reviewing Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing, and Pregnancy after Loss by Alexis Marie Chute. So what’s the book about?
After her son, Zachary, dies in her arms at birth, visual artist and author Alexis Marie Chute disappears into her -Year of Distraction.- She cannot paint or write or tap into the heart of who she used to be, mourning not only for Zachary, but also for the future they might have had together. It is only when Chute learns she is pregnant again that she sets out to find healing and rediscover her identity–just in time, she hopes, to welcome her next child. In the forty weeks of her pregnancy, Chute grapples with her strained marriage, shaken faith, and medical diagnosis, with profound results. Glowing with riveting and gorgeous prose, Expecting Sunshine chronicles the anticipation and anxiety of expecting a baby while still grieving for the child that came before–enveloping readers with insightful observations on grief and healing, life and death, and the incredible power of a mother’s love.
From the first page, Chute’s ability and talent as a writer is evident. She has an incredible way with language, not only perfectly describing the feeling she is attempting to convey or present the image she is attempting to conjure, but doing so in a linguistically beautiful way. You can tell she is an artist: this book is her canvas, and each word is a masterful brush stroke. Chute deals with some incredibly large and complex emotions, but presents them in a relatable way. As you read, you feel every emotion she feels: her profound sense of loss and her yearning for a sense of peace, her fears and worries, the moments of joy and sorrow. It is an emotional rollercoaster, but one I am glad I rode.
The word brave is thrown around all too often these days, but that is the only word I can use to adequately describe Chute for writing this book: Brave. She bares her soul for the reader to see, in its sometimes raw and ugly form, and details what she felt and what she thought, with total honesty. It is evident as a reader that this process was often difficult for her, but also extremely cathartic. I have been lucky in my life as I have not suffered the level of loss which Chute has, but I can see clearly how incredibly helpful this book would be to someone who has.
As a mother, I related a lot to much of what Chute says, particularly when discussing the internal struggle between your identity as a parent, and your own sense of self. As someone who is in full time employment, a writer, a blogger, a wife and a mother, I often feel myself being torn in a dozen different directions, and find myself struggling with maintaining my own identity. When one prioritises their own hobbies, their own passions, it means losing out on moments with your children and that can often lead to guilt. But during Chute’s journey of self discovery, she learns and emphasises the importance of retaining your own sense of self, and finding ways to express yourself and who you are as an individual, not just as a member of a family unit, something I too discovered after suffering with post natal depression.
This book is one of sorrow and loss, but most prominently, it is one of hope. And that is the prevailing emotion one feels once you finish the final chapter: Hope. Overall, I highly recommend this book, particularly if you have experienced a loss in your life with which you are currently struggling.