Memoirs Too Powerful to Put Down
Real stories, real women, real lessons that will
shake you up and set you back down—changed for the better (and
16 of 25
A Kiss Before You Go
This moving memoir (having borrowed the format of a graphic novel) could be called a picture book for grown-ups—one about the most grown-up subject of all: the loss of the person you can't live without. Danny Gregory has created an honest—and literal—portrait of grief, charting the life and death of his wife, Patti, in watercolors and words. Starting on the night they met, when he bought her a $3 White Russian, he chronicles their adventures traveling around the world, as well the birth of their son, Jack. The fascinating part of the story is how very brave and inspirational Patti really was—for anyone, not just for her husband. This was a woman who slipped and fell on a subway track, got run over by three trains, survived as a paraplegic in a wheelchair, and found a vital, new kind of happiness and freedom by helping others. Gregory's struggles after her death (15 years after the first accident) are so true that you can't help but relate, whether he's talking about how the hangers in her empty closet look "like dinosaur bones" or expressing rage about the fact that her dogs were diagnosed with stomach ailments because they just didn't want to eat out of sadness. Equally compelling is his progress toward rebuilding his life, the hardest and most mysterious part of a journey like this. How can someone recover? "The daily Patti has been replaced by the universal Patti," he writes. "I think of all the ways I loved her, at all the different parts of our lives."
— Leigh Newman