Bonnie Brody's Reviews > Just Breathe Normally

Just Breathe Normally by Peggy Shumaker
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's review
Mar 07, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2009

This is a beautiful and insightful memoir. After being injured in a horrific accident, the
author reflects on her life as she recuperates. Between episodes of 'Law and Order' which
she watches incessantly during her recuperation, she peers deeply into her childhood and
adult experiences. I watched 'Law and Order' during a recuperation, too, and I wonder
what it is about this series that helps healing or works to abate the horrible boredom that
accompanies recuperation.

The book is both poignant and brutally honest. Sometimes the writing is so lyrical that I
felt like singing with the words. At other times, it is so brutal that I felt like I'd been hit.
We travel back to the author's Tucson childhood where she survives an abusive and dys-
functional family with resiliency and dignity. She is able to make and keep close friends
and maintain closeness with relatives throughout her life, many of whom are there to sup-
port her after her accident. She describes her loving marriage and her sense of place in
Alaska. She has taught in the University of Alaska's English Department.

I get the sense that the author is a person who does not open up easily but when she
does it is like a flower that blooms suddenly and fully. This is a beautiful book, one that
I will remember for a very long time and that I cherished reading.
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