The Kind Of Love That Saves You
by Amy Yurk, contemporary (2001)
Bantam, $5.99, ISBN 0-553-58217-8

This book hurts. It really does. It is actually a diary of sorts written by Sarah Strickland. Sarah and her husband Gavin are the most nauseatingly happy and perfect couple you can ever meet. I know something must go wrong in their lives soon. Sarah wants a baby (she's hitting 30 soon), and when Gavin finally decides that he is ready to be a father, they throw themselves to the job with amazing gusto. The Kind Of Love That Saves You starts out as a whimsical diary Sarah writes for her then yet-to-be conceived baby, telling this baby how Daddy and Mommy are happy, et cetera.

Then Sarah is pregnant, and this diary actually becomes more relevant. She tells baby how Mommy and Daddy look forward to her arrival to this world, coochie coochie gaga. But alas, one day, the Stricklands are involved in a bad car crash that kills Gavin. And the rest of this story deals with Sarah's trying to cope with both the loss of her husband as well as her pregnancy.

The Kind Of Love That Saves You is not an easy read. It doesn't pull any punches and heads straight for my weakest points. Sarah's denial and then grief is so real, so vividly written that I find myself pulling at the Kleenex tissue reel again and again until, heck, let me just wipe my eyes on my sleeve instead. Some scenes are particularly haunting, such as when Sarah smells the towel her husband used before collapsing onto the laundry floor in broken tears. Meanwhile, her friend Callista tries to help her, but Sarah is not in the mood for help. She just wants to roll up and die.

Sarah is exasperating, pitiful, strong, and weak all in one, hence, a very real character. Ultimately though, she finds strength in her to pull through for the sake of her baby. The story ends with Sarah's optimistic hopes for the future after baby Rose Cecille Strickland and a promise of healing. It's inspiring, and well worth of all tears and pains the author put me through the last two hundred pages or so.

One real strength of The Kind Of Love That Saves You is its gentle handling of emotional scenes. There is no bombastic showy declarations or gestures for the sake of melodrama. Everything is done in a low, off-key style that is more effective than actual melodrama. Sarah goes through a lot: she thinks of killing herself, or terminating the pregnancy - nothing is spared here. Add to her grief the irrational mood swings caused by her pregnancy and I get one really bumpy but very satisfying read.

Rating: 90

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