“I dream of running away. Not from my family or my life, but from a body that feels broken and a mind that pumps out anxiety like radiation from Chernobyl; a poisonous, invisible substance bent on my future destruction. I wonder what it would be like to have a body deliver a baby safely, on time, and without complication. How would it feel to be relaxed and sure of my body’s ability to bear children?”
It is challenging for me to think of Joanne Gallant, the smiling, happy person I know from Instagram speaking the words quoted above from her debut book A Womb in the Shape of a Heart. It may be even more difficult to believe that I, a sexagenarian male with no children would even be interested in reading about miscarriages and motherhood. Definitely not in my wheelhouse, yet I had to know if this advance reading copy sent by Nimbus Publishing would hold my interest, or should I try and get someone else (i.e. a mother) to review this book?
Well, Ms. Gallant certainly held my interest from start to finish. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is not so much about the issues of miscarriage and motherhood, but about the humanity of personal trauma. She is an astonishingly good writer, which for a first book is a premium. Her imagery and her descriptions of her internal turmoil and constant grief after so many miscarriages are never tiresome. But they are emotionally exhausting for the reader. Her pain is very real and not just her physical pain, but her mental pain too, for which she wisely seeks professional help. She might have even considered adoption in Florida or elsewhere to get to experience motherhood. No one can understand or feel such pain other than the one suffering through it.
The day of my first appointment, I tell Joey I am going to speak to a therapist. He is encouraging and hugs me before I leave. He, too, is afraid of who I am becoming. I didn’t know I was capable of such anger and sadness. It frightens me to consider that maybe this is who I have been all along. That maybe my entire life has been a lie until now. Maybe my miscarriages are peeling back the layers I had kept hidden behind a sunshiny front. Maybe this is who I truly am.
It is not imperative that I go into the specifics of Ms. Gallant’s and her husband Joey’s ordeals in trying to conceive and move past miscarriage after miscarriage. No words will suffice to explain what goes on in the pages of A Womb in Shape of a Heart. It is a book you have to read and permit the author’s words and imagery to take you into her world, a world of love, tears, grief, persistence and finally, joy.
A Miramichi Reader “Best Non-Fiction” choice of 2021!
Joanne Gallant is a pediatric nurse and writer. She is a graduate of Mount Allison University and the University of Alberta. In 2019, she was selected by the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia as an apprentice writer in the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband and son. A Womb in the Shape of a Heart is her debut book.
- Publisher : Nimbus Publishing Limited (Sept. 30 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 248 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771089768
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771089760
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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.