Karen Valby
March 09, 2011 AT 05:00 AM EST

Signs of Life

Current Status
In Season
Natalie Taylor
Broadway Books

We gave it a B

When Natalie Taylor was 24 years old — and five months pregnant with her son — she got a call: Her vibrant husband, Josh, had been in an accident. He died the following morning, Father’s Day. In her poignant if uneven memoir, Taylor, a high school English teacher, describes the gut punch of mourning. She threads together memories of that hard first year with touchstones of comfort gleaned from beloved books like The Color Purple. Her dependable father, who shines marvelously in Signs of Life, gives her a copy of The Godfather and Taylor takes a cue from the Don, dividing those who rallied around her from those who failed her.

It’s hard to quibble with the story of this resilient young woman. But she’s not always a prose stylist, and at times her memoir (out April 12) reads like a series of dashed-off blog entries. Still, even if you wonder how much more mature a story she might have told had she waited, say, a year for her grief to settle, there’s something unforgettable about her rawness. She’s angry, dammit. You’ll be happy for her when she finds her joy again. B

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