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I Am I Am I Am by Maggie O'Farrell - Review

Monday, August 12, 2019

I recently plucked this book off the shelves in our back bedroom. My friend Laura bought it for me either this Christmas or last; she had read it and really enjoyed it. I thought it was time to get to it.

I've read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie, I read it a long time ago and really enjoyed it, I would recommend it. This book is autobiographical, and it chronicles seventeen near brushes with death that Maggie has had. From a near miss on a trail to jumping into the sea to impress some friends, to her childhood encephalitis, the Caesarean she had with her first child, and finally to her daughter's severe allergies.

I read it quickly, because each chapter is just like a little essay and really easy to read. Maggie has a gorgeously lyrical way of writing which comes through even in life writing like this, putting the reader in exactly the place that she was at the time. I could imagine the exotic locales really easily, I could see the hospital rooms perfectly. I liked how sometimes she switched from first person to second person; perhaps from a writing point of view it is purely to distance herself from having to relive the pain of whatever incident she's referring to (and it does seem to happen more in the more traumatic stories), but it also works to engage the reader to imagine themselves as the one in danger. There were bits I found really funny and bits I related to, but it was all really good to read and I'm glad I picked the book up.

I did some life writing myself in my MA and I really like it. I could almost write a book like this myself, and reading it has made me think a bit more about memory and about how we write about our own lives.

I'm giving this a well-deserved ten out of ten. I know I have other novels by Maggie, and now I really want to go and seek them out!


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