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Signs of Life: A Memoir

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  2,037 Ratings  ·  377 Reviews
“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life

Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way. Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident. Four months be
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 12th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Dec 10, 2011 drazz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, memoir, non-fiction
I was a student in her 11-1 Honors English Class at BHS in 2008-2009, & I can say I had no clue what was going on in Mrs Taylor's world. I originally read it to see if I recognized the students / to hear what exactly happened (I heard rumors, I wasn't even 100% certain that her husband had actually passed away).

...seriously. Wow. It's like sitting down and talking to her. It's so honest, each page cut me to the bone. I usually have something negative or critical to say about the things I've
Apr 17, 2014 J rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Local book. Seemed to be getting decent reviews... disappointing. I suspect the good reviews were all friends and family who were guilted into supporting her out of sympathy.

I'm sorry her husband died, but this woman is not an author. She does not display any writing talent and does not succeed in making me care about her - despite her obvious tragic tale. In fact, I loathed her by the time this book was done. She behaved like a teenager in the worst sense with an annoying overuse of nicknames a
Jan 09, 2015 Megan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, b-n
I understand that this is written like a dairy and there was minimal editing, meaning that how she felt and what she wrote at the time is what was published. I almost feel guilty saying that I hated this book, but I really disliked it. It starts off very interesting but that wanes after the first chapter... to the point where I did not even want to finish the book, but had to force myself to get to the last page.

Natalie seems like an awful person. I understand that her husband has unexpectedly d
Apr 13, 2011 Kristy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Signs Of Life's cover states: "Sit down with this book. See if you can stop at page 1." Well, the beginning was pretty good. But after a while it just gets repetitive. No, I didn't stop.. but I wanted to. I was really hoping it would get better. Actually, her best chapter was her last. It was the most uplifting part of the whole book. Natalie never gives any real insight into her husband.. except he was basically the best person ever! And although I do feel for her.. I felt like she was just so ...more
May 29, 2011 Ciara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so, this is a year & a half in the life of a woman whose husband unexpectedly died in a freak skateboarding accident while she was four months pregnant with their first child. i mean, how can i mark something like that down on stars? that would be one of my all-time worst nightmares.

the book opens with natalie getting the news about her husband's death while she is vacationing in florida with her family. they all rush back to michigan, where they agree to suspend life support & donate jo
Jackie W.
Jun 01, 2011 Jackie W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jackie by: A random customer I am grateful to.
A. MAZ. ING. I love this book. I love Natalie Taylor. I wish I could meet her and thank her for being so brave to write a book about something so horrible. I want to thank her for sharing her tears with me. I don't want to tell her things will be okay, because they won't. But I want to tell her that I will remember her husband, Josh, forever. And that seems important, because people can be forever if someone remembers them.

I am floored every time I realize that Natalie and I are the same age. Sh
I won this book from Goodreads. (It was a Fist Read giveaway.) I was really excited & couldn't wait to read it! I am a big fan of memoirs.

The book is written by Natalie Taylor. Natalie is a 24 year old H.S. English teacher who loses her husband Josh in a tragic accident. The young couple had only been married 18 months when Josh passed away. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that Natalie was 5 months pregnant with their first child, a son.

I really liked the book in the beginning. I had a
May 10, 2011 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably spent half the book fighting back or wiping my tears and the author has a conversational writing style, so it's more like you're talking to her than reading her book. I found this book especially readable as the author is young, speaks frankly and writes openly.

I do NOT recommend this book for someone looking for help coping with grief. The author handled her grief in a very specific way which I don't think most people would, and this is not a "self-help" book. Keep in mind, the auth
Apr 22, 2012 Hanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First published on Booking in Heels.

This is Natalie Taylor's story. It starts the day her husband dies and ends sixteen months later on their son's first birthday.

Natalie's journey from wife to widow to mother is heartbreaking, blackly funny and will move you to laughter and tears as she makes it across that finish line. And you have no doubt she will make it because Natalie is a warrior and a woman to cheer for.

I can't help but cringe as I type out that summary. It's just awful. Although it's

I read this as part of a kick I was on for grief/widow's Memoirs (Joyce Carol Oates, Sally Ryder Brady, Joan Didion, etc) The other women were older, and all were Writers. Taylor is an English teacher (the texts she's teaching become a laborious device -- she had a dream of a different life AND ... so did Gatsby).

This author was a 20-something pregnant Mom-to-be when her husband died in a freak carveboarding accident (like skateboarding? But more Xtreme?)

Except, how Freakish is an accident whe
Jul 13, 2012 Jamie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning of this book Natalie makes a note that this book is from her diaries and were her actual thoughts at the time and at times do not reflect well on her. This book has a lot of real emotion and at times is very raw. I would recommend this book to others. I felt like I was with her on this journey. She often says talks about the radio shows she listens to and the books that she is reading and relating to these people (or feeling that they are her friends)-this is how I felt througho ...more
Mar 25, 2011 Libby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
at the beginning i enjoyed this book, but after a while, it became kind of one dimensional. She never had any insight into her marriage and her dead husband, expect for the perfectness of it and him, and after she gave away her dogs, i kind of lost sympathy for her.
Jul 03, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was extremely difficult to read, but it was one of the most amazing and important books that I've ever read. Death is a subject not many of us like to discuss because it is painful to admit that we have no control over our own, or our loved ones' passings. Death is final and is full of the unknown, which makes us fear it and seek to do everything in our power to avoid it. Isn't that why we look both ways before crossing the street, exercise regularly, eat our fruits and veggies, and basical ...more
Jamie Kline
For more of my reviews, please be sure to visit my book review blog, Bookerella

I received this book free through Shelf Awareness (big thanks go out to them, the publisher, and the author!!). In this memoir we meet Natalie who, at the young age of 24, has lost her husband of 1 1/2 years, Josh, to a tragic accident. Her life has been completely flipped upside down and she feels like she can't do anything without him. With a baby on the way, she knows she needs to get it together, but after Josh's
Jun 06, 2012 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir of Natalie Taylor's year of grief after the death of her 27 year old husband. Joshua Taylor was carveboarding without a helmet when he hit his head and died almost instantly. Twenty-four year old Natalie was pregnant with their first child. The book is based on her journal entries in the year or so after Josh's death. The exploration of grief and growth can be a fascinating and painful subject. (No one does it better than Joan Didion) Perhaps it was Taylor's age, perhaps it was ...more
Jan 13, 2012 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, for those of you who claim that the book is too depressing, I have to wonder what you expected. This book reads a lot like the journal of a young woman who is navigating her ways through grief, rather than just a memoir. She is at times, whiny, ungrateful, entitled, but I think it is owed to her... I think it is a great testament to her strength that she openly admits that she is pissed off, frustrated with her relatives, and deserving of more.
The way the author ties in classic literat
May 11, 2011 Traci rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I give it two stars because it *should* have been a great story. It's a memoir and the storyline could be good. However, there were so many spelling and grammar erros, it made it very tough for me to get through it without wanting to highlight errors and return it to the author (or editor). I felt that character development was lacking and thus I really didn't care about anybody in the book. After reading the back of the book, I really wanted to like this. I am glad I didn't spend money on this ...more
Disclaimer: I have never been in this woman's shoes so I cannot say how I may have felt or what I may have written in my own journals. But let me start by saying that I wanted to like this book. And I wanted to feel more than I felt for Natalie.
As it were, I did feel awful for what happened to her husband, Josh, and the hole it created in her and her son Kai's life. But as a person, I had a little trouble drumming up much sympathy.
I am sure that she could care less about little old me, as she
Anne (Angel Anne Reviews) Nelson
Signs of Life: Natalie Taylor

I actually won Signs of Life on goodreads as a first-reads giveaway. Many thanks to Natalie Taylor for the opportunity to read your novel/memoir. :-)

Twenty-four year old Natalie lived a charmed and beautiful life; a very fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful loving husband, Josh, a new home, plus a new baby on it's way.

This wonderful new life came crushing down around Natalie when she was on vacationing in Florida with family (but not Josh) rec
I'd describe this as...well, edgy chick-lit I guess. It's definitely a woman's book, it deals with feelings, emotions, relationships and children. But it is edgy in that it's modern, there's language that normal people use and Natalie has a distinctive way of writing. Plus it's warts and all. Some reviews of this book in Good Reads have criticised her whining and ungratefullness towards her family and in-laws, but I enjoyed that - that's real, to have a love/hate, appreciation but resentment tow ...more
Jan 20, 2012 Ami rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I finished this a while ago, but I couldn't think of a good write-up--not sure why. It's an okay read, and interesting how Taylor ties each chapter/month in with a literary work.

The thing that got me is how absolutely...white middle-class suburban woman NORMAL she is, or at least, the way I imagine them to be. Maybe she's better off than normal, I don't know. She's thin, blonde-haired, blue-eyed. She was crazy about her well-liked, athletic husband, whom she met in college and married shortly t
Angela Risner
Jun 04, 2012 Angela Risner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Natalie Taylor, 24 and 5 months pregnant, is awakened by a phone call that her husband has had an accident while Carveboarding. Though no one tells her at that moment, she knows that her life has changed forever.

Natalie takes us with her on her journey into life as a young widow and new mother. At her age, she had never questioned that her husband, Josh, would be by her side for many years to come. Now she must learn to navigate her life as a single mother.

All of this may sound like the book sho
May 29, 2011 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rolled my eyes when I saw the quote by Elizabeth Berg on the cover about seeing if you could stop after one page. I thought yeah right, but that was exactly what happened. I absolutely loved the raw honesty in this book. very quickly I realize Natalies husband would be very close to my age so that sucked me in a bit. in some ways to I did connect to her feelings of grief. I'm not a widow but I went thru a divorce at 26 so there was still a sense of loss and also the feeling of no one else my a ...more
Aug 16, 2015 Milissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. An honest look at grief. I was surprised by the criticisms in the negative reviews. Yes, there were moments of immaturity...but the author was in the midst of major grief, only 24, and pregnant. By the end of the book, there were many new insights and a deeper understanding of other loved ones' grief. Grief is not rational or thoughtful or insightful. It is miserably painful. People become more compassionate and insightful after experiencing grief...but in the moment, it can be ...more
Oct 21, 2012 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times it was really hard to like Natalie, but since this was written from her journal while she was in midst of the events, it does read as an honest account of what she was feeling. At one point, she mentions that she didn't verbalize these feelings to others; it was purely an internal dialogue.
When she brought the books her classes were reading into the story, it actually made me want to re-read (or read) some of these books. While her language sometimes seemed over the top, I identified w
Albion College
"It took me one day and most of an evening to read Signs of Life, the 2011 memoir by Albion College alum Natalie Taylor. It is that good. Natalie’s story is heartbreaking, courageous, and at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious.
It’s also true.

Natalie was a student of mine, a person I could never forget. Now she’s maybe the best high school English teacher ever, my current students from Berkley High School tell me. I believe it. Signs of Life is Natalie’s story of how she lived through the terrible n
Becky Roper
May 21, 2013 Becky Roper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Awesome book! This is a memoir written about a young wife whose husband dies suddenly while she is pregnant with their first child. The first part of the book was pretty slow as she described in excruciating detail her grief experience. However, as things move along it keeps getting better. The last half of the book was great as long as you can get past her frequent use of the "f" word. She returns to teaching high school literature and her insights into the books she has her students reading we ...more
Mary Kenyon
Dec 29, 2015 Mary Kenyon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this more than I did. As a fellow widow, I should have been able to identify with it, but it became clear that it was more than an age difference (the author's 24 to my 52 when widowed) that made it difficult. While I appreciate the author's brutal honesty in her feelings towards others, she came across as very mean-spirited. I had hoped her husband's death would make her a more empathetic person. For as much support as she had, she was not very gracious towards all the people w ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Courtney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DELICIOUS! I couldn't put this book down. When I first opened it I didn't close until somewhere after the 100 page mark. On the first page you find a happily married 24 year old who is 4 months pregnant that finds out her 27 year old husband has just died in a sporting accident. The story is amazingly well written. The author is a high English teacher and as the months pass she draws on the works she is teaching in her class to illustrate a relevant discovery about her own life which both increa ...more
May 04, 2011 Margie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I was so, so excited when I received this as a giveaway from good-reads First, let me explain how hard it was to receive this book. UPS left an empty package on my door step, which was suppose to have this book inside. Good-reads and the publisher responded to my email right away and sent another copy! So THANK YOU to both of them!

Now my review. Sorry to say this book did not stand up to my excitement. Natalie had a judgmental attitude toward the people around her. It came across as, her way of
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Any time I meet someone new, at some point he or she discovers that I am a mom and I do not wear a wedding ring. No matter what else I have to offer to the world, this image of having a child and no wedding ring still startles people. "I'm a single mom," I say. Usually I get a really lighthearted, "Oh!" An "Oh" that is said with this really nice ring to it where as the speaker of the "Oh" is tryin ...more
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“But always too soon, right after a fleeting moment of hope, the floor opens up and I sink to the bottom again.” 4 likes
“Grief goes at its own speed. Because there is such a lack of progress in my emotional healing, I just want to see progress somewhere else.” 1 likes
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