Always, Katie: Of This Much I'm Sure: A Memoir - By Nadine Kenney Johnstone (Book Review)


Monday, April 24, 2017

Of This Much I'm Sure: A Memoir - By Nadine Kenney Johnstone (Book Review)

From time to time, I'm asked to review books on my blog... occasionally, I agree, more often I do not. [This post does contain affiliate links - if you click the link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting Always, Katie!] When the email about Of This Much I'm Sure: A Memoir by Nadine Kenney Johnstone came across my "desk," I was intrigued by the summary her agent sent me.

At twenty-two, Chicagoan Nadine Kenney meets her future husband, Jamie, while vacationing in Florida. She soon uproots from her home and family to join Jamie in suburban Massachusetts. Once married, the couple begins trying for a baby.   
Yet neither of them suspect just how tumultuous the path to parenthood will be.
Unable to conceive naturally, Nadine embarks upon a series of infertility treatments that wreak havoc with her health, her emotions and her marriage -- and threaten her life.  From uncommunicative doctors and internal bleeding following an IVF procedure to emergency surgery that leaves her with a six inch scar instead of a baby bump, Nadine endures nearly every trial and tribulation that infertility treatments often bring. All the while, she’s astounded that few if any doctors or couples dare discuss these.
In what seems like a miracle, she eventually becomes pregnant naturally. But the horrors are not over: her unborn son is diagnosed with potentially terminal kidney complications. For the duration of the pregnancy, Nadine and Jamie must live with a profoundly troubling uncertainty about whether and how long their child will survive.
Ultimately, Nadine is forced to come to terms with the stark differences between reality and the notion of “happily ever after” she once harbored, and to recognize that amid great unpredictability the only thing she can be sure of is the healing power of hope and love.

The summary read almost like the summary of the newest, hottest novel... National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) was coming up, and I didn't have any labor-intensive collaborative posts on the horizon, so I eagerly sank my teeth into the book.

Oh my goodness, y'all. The prologue had me hooked. Absolutely hooked! I posted on my Facebook page that night that I had just discovered the most incredible author, and meant every word. Nadine's story-telling style is captivating, in a very literal way. She takes her time to craft flawless word pictures, until you feel like you're in a crowded Chicago basement or in the front row at her outdoor wedding.

Her story - like all our stories - ebbs and flows. There are scenes of peace and tranquility, of rage, of soaring joy and love, of quiet desperation, of deliberate optimism, of abject terror. You will feel each of these things deeply as you lose yourself in Nadine's world. My husband could tell by my face the tone of the passage I was reading.

One word of caution about this beautiful work of art: Nadine does such a thorough job of inviting you into her story, into her heart, that some chapters may be disturbing to some readers. I personally had a panic attack while reading a few scenes that took place in a hospital that hit me a little too close to home. :-) A Xanax, a good sleep, and a couple days later, I was able to jump back into the book and finish it with no further issues, though! Because infertility treatment is such an emotionally-wrought process for many of us, I would urge anyone who thinks they may have lingering trauma from the medical aspects to practice good self-care while reading, or instead of reading.

Because this book reads more like a first-person novel than a memoir, I would highly recommend it for non-infertile readers, too! It would make a great gift, for example, for a fertile friend who has expressed a desire to understand the struggles an infertile friend is experiencing. Or for the book-loving parent of an infertile couple. Or, truly, anybody who enjoys a good read. :-)

Of This Much I'm Sure: A Memoir is available now, in paperback and Kindle editions. BUT if you'd rather win one - with nifty "advance reader copy" labels on it - check out my Instagram! The publisher is graciously allowing me to give away a copy (I read the e-book version to keep this one pristine for you, haha!). Instagram is the easiest place for me to host a giveaway, but I want to make it accessible to anyone who wants a copy, so if you don't have an Instagram account, please email and put "OF THIS MUCH I'M SURE" in the subject line so it doesn't get lost. :-) I'll slip you into my giveaway spreadsheet in the order your email arrives relative to the comments on Instagram :-)

Have a lovely rest of your NIAW, friends! I'll be back in a day or two with another post tied to the official National Infertility Awareness Week theme: "Listen Up" in cooperation with some other awesome infertility bloggers. :-)

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