The Year of Magical Thinking By Joan Didion

I have never read a book by Mrs. Didion but her writing is obviously very good and extremely easy to read. She has been writing for a while and I am actually embarrassed that I haven’t read her before especially since this is a very tender book. In the space of a year her adult daughter is hospitalized several times with a series of infections and neurological issues and she loses her husband. What she writes about in this book is her reactions, responses and what she sees as his almost supernatural ability to foresee his death – maybe. Her transparency is duly noted. She remembers the minutia of details of their lives together and then forgetting altogether what she had made for dinner that last night with him. She also goes into some detail of how she has to explain to their only daughter more than once of her father’s death as her daughter had been hospitalized, is intubated and just plain doesn’t remember her mother’s explanations from before due to trauma. Excruciating to say the least.

What is heart wrenching is her lack of a soul mate, for want of a better word, to share dreams, goals and expectations with. She had been married just short of 40 years when he died. I know we all deal with grief but she writes quite succinctly about the way her mind worked or didn’t work in different situations; how she would avoid areas of town where they had lived or restaurants they would frequent. I can only imagine that this was some sort of mechanism for self preservation.
I picked this book up as it was on the reading list at my daughter’s high school, I had never read Didion and like to be aware of what is on the reading lists. I have to say that this is probably a great book for teenagers with a sometimes unhealthy view of their mortality and Mrs. Didion does a spectacular job of re-creating her emotions.

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