Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 10)
There was a church we knew of that used to have this catch-phrase: “Not what you'd expect, but maybe what you were looking for...” That's perhaps never been more applicable to a book than this one.
This is a book about grief with a somewhat spiritual angle, but it's not some Judeo-Christian spiritual self-help book, nor is it heavy or soppy. This book is actually surprisingly... detached and lighthearted. That's not necessarily a bad thing at all, in fact it can be a breath of fresh air and a welcomed surprise. Look, we just got through a book about a man who lived through and lost his entire family to the Holocaust, saw Amon Goeth torture and murder people, then lost his wife to an illness. We also went through a book about a mother's courageous and arduous 10-sum year journey taking care of a miracle daughter with Trisomy 18 who would literally asphyxiate or overheat if left unattended for any amount of time, forcing her mother to give up just about everything just to keep her alive as long as possible. Forgive us if we're a bit burned out from the grieving.
We've literally been crying for like 2-3 consecutive books. At least with “Black, White, and Gray All Over” by Frederick Douglas Reynolds, there was a lot of humor and lighthearted moments in between people just being racist and terrible to one another. This book is tonally much different. It's totally different. We were almost going to nickname this book “Shenanigans of a Widow” because it's surprisingly cheerful and even goofy at times. Tammy seems like a wonderful and fun woman. That definitely comes through the pages with her writing. She doesn't seem to take anything including herself too seriously. But the great tragedy still hangs in the air for what it is: a great tragedy. And we experience it along with Tammy.
Something that's a bit unique about this book on grieving is that the author is not overtly religious like other authors on the subject. She did have Christianity somewhat forced on her as a kid by her family (especially her brother). She does mention Jesus and the Judeo-Christian angels among the names she evokes from time to time, but this is far from a Christian or religious book. It's not an occult book either. And it's no ghost story, or at least isn't told like one. It's also not really a self-help book, at least that's not how we read it. It just... is. It records an interesting true story with the intention of telling that story. You the reader can make of that as you will.
We are taken through different chapters of Tammy's life, especially her relationship with her now-deceased partner, Michael, and the car crash that took his life and left her alive but in a hospital bed in Mexico. We reflect on their relationship all the way down to their e-mails to one another. You can tell that these moments of reflection are sobering and emotional for the author even though the tone of some of the e-mails and memories are cheerful or silly. Michael was clearly the love of her life and the two of them shared a beautiful relationship. Tammy is not shy about sharing when things were not ideal, but she also reminds us like Dr. Alyson Nerenberg did last season that there's “No Perfect Love.”
It turns out that many coincidences put Tammy and Michael in the car that fateful day and ultimately led to Michael's passing and Tammy's survival. It's those coincidences that partly make us wonder if there's something more than meets the eye—if there is a power like God, fate, and/or destiny involved.
There are some moments of this book that made us feel such ambivalent yet powerful feelings such as when TSA felt the need to investigate the urn containing Michael's ashes only to have Tammy desperately and ferociously show them the papers to preserve his dignity. What seems like a moment that could be a humorous or silly misunderstanding is simultaneously tragic and heartbreaking.
Perhaps the biggest aspect of this book is Tammy's ability to communicate with Michael after he has passed away as Tammy becomes a medium for his words. Now, some of what Michael communicates can come across as difficult to believe, especially in its idealism (such as treating everyone with kindness and loving everyone), but we can give Tammy the benefit of the doubt. One of us, after all, had once had a rather powerful sixth sense in their youth, and tapped into it from time to time. So, it's not entirely unbelievable. We'd say that there's definitely a spiritual aspect to the universe that science is yet to be able to explain, and this book and Tammy's experiences stand as another example of that.
It is definitely worth checking out!