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Avalanche: A Love Story

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  349 ratings  ·  63 reviews
In this brave and lucid account, Julia Leigh broaches a challenging life event often left undiscussed: how the struggle to have a child can take an agonizing toll. Leigh’s experience at the vanguard of medical science is acutely rendered, physically and emotionally, transmitting what it feels like to so desperately wish for a child while knowing that the odds are stacked a ...more
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by W. W. Norton Company (first published August 1st 2016)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Julia Leigh is a novelist and filmmaker based near Sydney, Australia. She first walked into an IVF clinic at age 38. When her marriage broke down, however, things got complicated. Her ex wouldn’t allow her to use his frozen sperm. Cycle after cycle, the hormones, hopes and costs (over A$11,000 just to freeze her eggs) built up. By now Leigh was 44 and had no partner. Her situation was certainly not ideal, and her chances of becoming pregnant were only ever rated as high as 20%. It’s hard not to ...more
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So necessary that IVF and infertility is written about.

Utterly brave of her to do so.

Scared me half to death, too close to home.

I wish she had written more about the complexity of facing the many others with babies and children. Perversely, I wanted to know more about what she really went through, because there must have been so much more; particularly the aftermath.

Having said that, I don't know how she managed to commit those words to the pages,
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book should have been called "Avalanche: the story of an intelligent woman making a number of terrible decisions". Ok, so that's too long for a title, but once you've read it then you won't have to read this book, which is a very short, very poetic recounting of a decade worth of bad decisions with predictable bad outcomes. Unfortunately for the author, she had enough money to make the kind of truly bad decisions most of us can't. Money can't buy happiness or sense, it seems.

Brona's Books
Writing a book about your experience with the IVF program comes with many emotional pitfalls and landmines. It crashes into the brick wall of other people's preconceived and often strongly held opinions.

The trick, obviously, is to connect emotionally to your reader very early on.

Full review here -
Pamela Fedderson
Who cares?

Self indulgent, repetitive, and flat. One does feel compassion for the author, yet the book was like a stale flat beer.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Earlier this year, during an ultrasound ordered to determine the reason for some pelvic pain, I was informed that I have a birth defect that drastically reduces the chances of being able to carry a pregnancy to term. There are different grades of the defect, some bettering the chances. But analysis of the scans showed that my defect is the worst case scenario in its extremity. A doctor was even brought into the room by the tech to confirm this, in a moment so surreal that it struck me at the tim ...more
Jane Dickenson
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enthralling account of the author's experience of wanting and trying for a child. Such an open and honest book. I read it in one sitting. Gives an insight into the IVF world that I imagine is generally only accessible to those going through it personally.
A very honest and lucid account of the author's (depressing) experience with IVF. It is easily read, quite matter of factly describing the various treatments (which sometime sound like being offered by snake-oil salesmen).
At the age of 38 she rekindles a love affair from university days, they marry with the few of having a child. But it will require medical assistance due to the husband's vasectomy.
It is an emotional marriage of two strong-minded people. They separate and then divorc
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Avalanche is a short book, with the pace of a thriller and an emotional rawness that's hard to look at directly. I raced through it in a morning and, honestly, I think I'm still recovering from it. Just thinking of the ending sparks emotion. I'd recommend this for anyone with children, anyone trying for children, or anyone who definitely does or does not want children in the future.

One of my favourites of 2016, in the category 'Best One-Sitting Read That Made Me Cry':
Michael Livingston
Oct 22, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm a big fan of Julia Leigh's fiction, but I struggled a bit to engage with this short memoir detailing her experience with IVF. The writing is typically stylish and Leigh has bravely presented a very unfiltered view of her struggles through the process. I think my lack of interest in parenthood made it hard for me to feel very sympathetic or to really connect with Leigh's experiences. I'm sure there's an audience for whom this book will resonate a lot, but it's not me.
Harry McDonald
I don't have a lot in common with Julia Leigh. Most importantly, I'm never going to undergo an IVF procedure. But there is something about it that registers so close to the bone: the articulation of her frustration and ultimate devastation at the failure of IVF, in such clean, bare prose.

The sparseness allows that emotion to refract, it bounces between the language and the emotional circuitry underneath, amplifying it's effect. It's a beautiful, devastating read.

[ I didn'
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brutally honest and heartbreaking.
I felt Leigh's pain so acutely. Distraught that it never paid off. I can't even imagine.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
There’s all sorts of reasons why I don’t feel I’m in a position to comment on Julia Leigh’s Avalanche, an account of her experience with IVF. However, Leigh makes a statement early in her memoir that made me pause and think –

“In the public imagination – as I perceive it – there’s a qualified sympathy for IVF patients, not unlike that shown to smokers who get lung cancer. Unspoken: ‘You signed up for it, so what do you expect…?'”

“Qualified sympathy” – it’s an interesting phrase. Have I ever/>“In
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stella-prize, 2016
Originally reviewed at Tea & Titles

And so begins my quest to read through the Stella Prize 2017 longlist.

If you haven’t already, I suggest going over to look at my pre-reading thoughts post so you can learn more about the prize, and my thoughts, obviously.

I mentioned in that post that I don’t know a whole lot about IVF. I’m only 21 right now, and my goals for the next 5 or so years don’t include children at all. I don’t know anyone who went through IVF, or read any
Hayley DeRoche
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
As someone who's gone through IVF, my thoughts are all over the place about this, so I feel the need to bullet-point them as they are.

-The tone of this is matched by the cover art -- cool, wintery, with an air of sharp bitter wind

-Her relationship with her partner and then ex-partner is astoundingly toxic and terrible and oh-my-god, and I nearly choked on the awfulness several times -- this is not your typical "we were so in love and so perfect and yet so fated to struggl
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
It was hard for me not to be all 'judgey' when reading this book, but I guess that's because I'm coming at it from such a different angle. Having struggled with fertility, and now trying to adopt, I read some parts of this book in horror. I was shocked at the nature of the authors relationship with her husband, and at the thought they were trying to conceive a baby. Anyone who has tried to adopt in Australia will know that it is such a difficult process, and your whole life is put through the wr ...more
Jeannette Mazur
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was recently diagnosed with "unexplained infertility", which basically means that the husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for the past year unsuccessfully (with the exception of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy). After talking to a specialist we've realized that IVF might be in our future. This book was so heart wrenching. The sheer amount of effort and soul that Julia put into having a baby was so sad. It was wonderful of her to open up about her struggles with IVF and infertility. Whi ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Whoa, that was intense. I loved Julia Leigh's novellas and consider her one of the best Australian writers. I didn't know much about this book except that it was memoir and about her experiences with IVF. I learnt a lot about the statistics behind IVF and the crappy choices women are faced with. If this is of interest/relevant to you I'm sure you will get a lot from this book.
Clare Rhoden
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is stunning. If you have been through IVF, it will break open your wounds and help you assimilate the experience. New perspectives, brilliant insights, validation. If you have not experienced IVF, read this book. You will learn a lot about childlessness and human desires, and recognise the everyday grief that is all around you for a variety of reasons.
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I saw Julia Leigh do a talk at the Sydney Writer's Festival and was spell bound by her. This book is layered and heavy and insightful. I don't know if I will have children but I am so thankful for this account of one potential aspect of what that journey might look like one day, and what challenges you can potentially face as a trade off for waiting as long as possible to decide.
Aug 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
A beautifully raw yet poignant account of one woman's quest for pregnancy. Leigh writes with a gut-wrenching level of honesty that makes you feel each trial and tribulation in the deepest corners of your heart.
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leigh really is courageous writing this beautifully honest and much needed book about her IVF journey. She gives a voice to any woman who has had a similar experience and for that its hard not to be grateful.
Ellen Dunne
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Account of a woman and her increasingly desperate struggle for a child via IVF. Raw and merciless on herself, her (ex)partner and the IVF industry. And with a very hopeful message at the end. Even if it is a very different one from the usual miracle baby narrative.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intense, beautifully written and brave.
Goska A
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
A quick read, only seventy pages, but a profound one, especially for 'women like us'. I wanted to read this even though in reality I so didn't, but I also wanted to know one thing, that I wasn't alone and not crazy, that the decision that I just had to make, like Julia, was one because of reasons that have to stand up to what is right, and the crappiness of low chances and stats. Unlike Julia though, I am now going to try and go down the second road, that of adoption, and mainly due to the simpl ...more
G Batts
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really good to read in one sitting. The lack of chapters builds the mood of all-encompassing obsession. The gambling-addicts rationalising of numbers, the superstitions and omen spotting. The isolation of doing this by yourself because your friends don’t understand and the burden it places on your loved ones.

The book also shows the predatory nature of fertility clinics, like drug dealers causally chucking options in front of you. Using emotional language to suck you in. Playing down
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
For the most part, I related to all the emotions and yearning in the book, but the author and I have different personalities/perspectives so some things were jarring. Still, a much needed perspective on the infertility and IVF struggle.
Chris Waterford
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazingly honest memoir this is! The agony and the pain and joy and brutal raw emotion of being in a relationship and going through the IVF process.
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A poignant, heart-breaking memoir about infertility.
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Julia Leigh (b. 1970) is an Australian novelist, film director and screenwriter.

Born in 1970 in Sydney, Australia,[ Leigh is the eldest of three daughters of a doctor and maths teacher. She initially studied law but shifted to writing. For a time she worked at the Australian Society of Authors. Her mentors included leading authors Frank Moorhouse and Toni Morrison.

Leigh is
“Whenever people asked "How are you?" by way of social nicety I lied through my teeth. "Not too bad," I'd say. Or "Swings and roundabouts." At least I didn't say "Fine, thanks." or "A livid scar cuts across my very being.” 1 likes
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