Matt and Liz Logelin were high school sweethearts. After years of long-distance dating, the pair finally settled together in Los Angeles, and they had it all: a perfect marriage, a gorgeous new home, and a baby girl on the way. Liz's pregnancy was rocky, but they welcomed Madeline, beautiful and healthy, into the world on March 24, 2008. Just twenty-seven hours later, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited. Though confronted with devastating grief and the responsibilities of a new and single father, Matt did not surrender to devastation; he chose to keep moving forward-- to make a life for Maddy. In this memoir, Matt shares bittersweet and often humorous anecdotes of his courtship and marriage to Liz; of relying on his newborn daughter for the support that she unknowingly provided; and of the extraordinary online community of strangers who have become his friends. In honoring Liz's legacy, heartache has become solace.
Matt and his wife Liz met in 1996 when they were just teenagers. Three dates in, they were convinced they had found a forever kind of love with each other. Fast forward to 2008, they're now married with a baby on the way. Liz gives birth to a baby girl, weeks ahead of schedule, and then the very next afternoon dies suddenly of an embolism (a blood clot doctors suspect moved from one of her legs to one of her lungs). In a matter of moments, Matthew went from glowing in his status as a newly minted family man to now being a widower with a newborn to raise on his own. This memoir looks at those early years as he tries to navigate new fatherhood without the support of a spouse.
In his foreword, Matt opens with "I am not a writer" but then closes that section with "I guess you could say I am a writer now." Not to be harsh, but you had it right the first time there, Matt. You have indeed written a book, you have authored something. But to me, there is a world of difference between having written something and being a writer. Anyone can string words together and say "I am the author of that" ... but to be a WRITER with a capital W, you want to convey that you live and breathe words and literature as much as air, you want people to see it's a vital component of your soul. I did not get that sensation here.
First off -- as I've seen other reviewers point out -- my god, yes, the profanity. It's not the fact that he uses it that bothers me, it's that his usage lacks finesse! I am all for a well placed curse word to bring the power and impact where no other word will do, but this book is just buckshot with unnecessary profanity, to the point that its very presence is so prevalent as to become unimpactful and just downright annoying. Hard for me to feel for the guy when I'm struggling to get over his frat-boy vocabulary. I had to laugh when looking over the Reading Group Questions at the back of the book -- Question #5 addresses the amount of profanity in the text and asks the reader if they think it adds or detracts from the overall telling of his story. Look over the reviews on Goodreads and you can see pretty clear feedback on this one from several readers!
Then there are the signs of douchebaggery that brought down my rating that much more. Just a few of the moments that grated on me:
* Talking about how the sound of anyone urinating weirds him out, so his wife has to give him a heads up to cover his ears when she needs to go (what are you, 5?!)
* Helping his wife with brushing her teeth shortly after she just gave birth but then giving her a hard time after she got some spit on his hand, followed by him saying "I'm half kidding". Half kidding. So maybe her aim was off a hair, but she was heavily medicated still, and did just birth a premature baby. UGH.
* All the moments he felt it necessary to reiterate that he was a man, man. He "didn't know how to do that maternal stuff", he "needed a manly diaper bag", he gets news that his baby is a girl and initially panics because "how can you take a little girl to a baseball game, they wear pink and scream at the wrong times and ruin EVERYTHING". Or how he whined about not knowing how he was going to pay the bills because his wife's Disney job paid infinitely more than his job at Yahoo. You know what you do, suck it up, hit pavement and GO GET ANOTHER JOB. You do whatever you have to do. Like a grown up.
* He seemed to get seriously enraged at the smallest, most petty little things. Or at others just trying to do their damn job. But if it wasn't to his liking, clearly the world was out to test him. *Facepalm*
* Though initially Matt paints Liz in a saintly light, the further in you get the more he seems to insist on knocking her taste in tv, movies, music, even what she named her car! The Christmas story also bothered me -- how he talks about again giving his wife a hard time because she wanted a tree and lights at Christmas (what ended up being her very last Christmas) but he whined about having to do all that decorating when they lived in California and couldn't even have a "white Christmas". But he immediately follows that with a story about how SHE traveled across the world to visit him in India during a previous Christmas and he describes in great detail the tree and decorations he had there. So it's cool when HE wants something, but when she requests it, it's silly. M'kay. Now, at the end of this section, he does admit feeling regret about how much of a jerk he was that last Christmas, but read above and you see he already had a lot of knocks against him by the time I got to this point.
So I wasn't a fan of Logelin's writing style, and the only reason this is a 2 star instead of a 1 star rating from me is solely because I do cut him some slack for the horrible tragedy he endured. I acknowledge that he wrote this while grieving a lost spouse and I do give him props for seeming to be a dedicated dad (you gotta be dedicated to be down to spend $200 on a single baby dress!). I could also sympathize with him when he talks about having to decide what to do with his wife's things and the process of needing to work through the sentimentality and nostalgia soaked into each item. I've had to go through that process myself after losing family members, and have also had to help other friends and family members through it so I'm well aware what a painful process it is to get to that cathartic moment of finally being able to let go of the physical stuff that you realize has actually been holding you back more than you previously thought.
So yes, I acknowledge the pain he went through but would hesitate to read anything else he decides to write in the future.