When I was twelve years old, my family went on a day outing to Lake Paris. Standing in the water, my sister and I made sure our feet were always touching the sand. I haven't learned to swim yet, that would come a lot later in adulthood. I had a small fear of drowning after having read a passage in a V.C. Andrew's book in which a character drowned and the description of his bloated body was too much for me. But having also grown up in Southern California with the coast only a mile away, I also didn't have a fear of the water. I probably should, but I didn't. I was always careful. I never went into the ocean by myself and I never venture far. What I wasn't expecting that day was that while holding onto my sister's hand we'd start drifting away from shore. I don't remember the actual drifting part, what I do remember was the immense panic that set in when I realized that I couldn't feel the sand beneath. As I started to go under, I saw the lifeguard and prayed that she would see us (she didn't). My sister will tell you that she saved me, that she pulled me back to shore while I tried to dragged her underneath. It is all true. Trying to pull myself up, I inevitably pushed her down. We see-sawed like this for a bit until she started kicking her feet, propelling forward. She never lets me forget, not even today when I called to asked her how old we were when it happened. So here's an apology to my sister for making it harder for her to save me. I love you.
This is a peculiar review, I know but this is what Maggie O'Farrell's memior did for me. It made me think of my own near death experiences. This one, not as dramatic as others, but forever imprinted in my mind. Here's the thing: Maggie O'Farrell has seventeen of these near-death experiences. She's either extremely unluckily or she's lived a full and interesting life. The first story caught my attention, sending chills down my spine while the others pulled me in completely. I can't say I'd read a memoir like this before, neither in this format or this compelling. Memoirs and non-fiction short stories are typically slow reads for me. Some I haven't picked up again after putting them aside in the fifth chapter. Not even Tina Fey made it to the end, but this one was unique and gripping. A full five stars for me.
What are your thoughts on this memoir? Did you have any near death experience? Tell me below.