Publication Date: May 11, 2012
The author’s publisher, Capra Press, gave me a copy of this memoir for review.
Poetry can be ponderous and inscrutable. The poetry of I Never Expected This Good Life: Poems and Stories is lyrical and literal. It is an artful look into the soul of its subject. Futernick’s poetry and prose are literal and lyrical and contribute to a reader’s ability to identify with the theme.
Futernick’s memoir is divided into seven categories discussing varied aspects of life. She includes marriage, family, children, work and other common activities and connections that readers experience on a daily basis in life and community. The author holds little back, sharing deeply painful moments in her time line including her mother’s cancer and decline as well as the loss of her father. In the poem “Sleeping with My Mother,” Futernick shares the connection that she has with her mother through co-sleeping and the devastation at the loss of that connection with her mother’s demise. Intellectually, she knows that her mother has lived a tough life and was in a great deal of pain, but she is a touchstone for her daughter. The heart of the poem resonated with this reader. Throughout this 175-page work, there is laugh, love, loss and introspection all tinged with the joy of the experience and the pain of reality.
In The Arc of a Single Shooting Star, Futernick tells readers in a short-story form of her brother losing his eye. She conveys the horror of the situation and the childlike jealousy of the attention given to him by her parents in the aftermath of the accident. The real message of the story lies not in the loss of an eye but in the inability of that loss to hold him back. Life happens, and you decide what to hold in your heart and to rise above. The matter-of-fact style in which she summarizes this experience as an adult carries the reader as an observer with Futernick. She leaves us to our own conclusions about the lasting effects the accident had on her brother and herself.
I Never Expected This Good Life concludes with the poem Astonishment’s Cup. Despite the uneven time line of the piece, a reader can feel that they’ve had a complete look into the author’s soul. Futernick’s style is simple and direct so that readers can pull the shorter pieces together to gain a full picture. The family is important to the author; connections with people are important to the author; a real life experience is important to the author. Pieces were previously published which likely helped this author gain perspective on her work and give the reader the feeling that every word is considered and weighed before added to her work. I Never Expected This Good Life is a polished work that acts as a fully immersive experience for the reader. This is a memoir best read with a Snuggie and cup of your favorite hot beverage because once you start, you will not want to put this book down until it’s done.
As unconventional the format, I Never Expected This Good Life has the feeling of a true memoir. We’ve spent the day with Futernick and gotten to know her and wish her well. I Never Expected This Good Life is a wonderful and warm piece masterfully compiled for an audience coming into this life cold and readers will love every moment of this charming piece.
Read an excerpt and buy I Never Expected This Good Life by Jennifer Futernick on