Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Where You Left Me

Summary: Lucky—that's how Jennifer would describe herself. She had a successful law career, met the love of her life in Doug, married him, had an apartment in New York City, a house in the Hamptons, two beautiful children, and was still madly in love after nearly seven years of marriage. Jennifer was living the kind of idyllic life that cliches are made of.

Until Doug was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center, and she became a widow at age thirty-five—a "9/11 widow," no less, a member of a select group bound by sorrow, of which she wanted no part. Though completely devastated, Jennifer still considered herself blessed. Doug had loved her enough to last her a lifetime, and after his sudden death, she was done with the idea of romantic love—fully resigned to being a widowed single mother . . . until a chance encounter with a gregarious stranger changed everything. Without a clue how to handle this unexpected turn of events, Jennifer faced the question asked by anyone who has ever lost a loved one: Is it really possible to feel joy again, let alone love?

With unvarnished emotion and clear-eyed sardonic humor, Jennifer tells an ordinary woman's extraordinary tale of unimaginable loss, resilience, friendship, love, and healing—which is also New York City's narrative in the wake of September 11.
Where You Left Me is an unlikely love story, a quintessentially New York story—at once Jennifer's tribute to the city that gave her everything and proof that second chances are possible. -- Gallery

September 11, 2001.... It's a day that no American will ever forget. And it's one of the events that everyone immediately remembers where they were when they first learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center. My husband, two-year old daughter and I had just moved from Washington D.C. to Central Pennsylvania a few days earlier, and I was glued to the television along with the rest of the world. I almost took our relocation and my decision to be a stay-at-home mom as a positive sign that day since I worked only a few miles from the Pentagon. Needless to say, I still get chills when I think about how devastating this terrorist attack was on so many families.

As the tenth anniversary approaches (I can hardly believe it's been 10 years!), I've found that the families who lost their loved ones have been in my mind a great deal. And that's probably one of the reasons that I was drawn to the memoir WHERE YOU LEFT ME by Jennifer Gardner Trulson. WHERE YOU LEFT ME tells the story of Jennifer Gardner Trulson, a woman who seemingly "had it all" -- a beautiful apartment, a house in the Hamptons, loads of friends, a wonderful husband, and two gorgeous young children. And just like that... her life was turned upside-down when her husband was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.

It probably goes without saying that WHERE YOU LEFT ME wasn't always an easy book for me to read. I can't even begin to imagine losing my husband and being left a widow with two young children, and I find any book about 9/11 to be disturbing. However, I do feel it's important for me to read books like this one -- namely because these stories make sure that I will never forget what happened to our country that day. But reading books like this one also serve as a valuable reminder about how very fortunate I am. I have the most amazing husband and children and I also have a wonderful support system with my family and friends; and for some reason, I need to read books like this one to act as a wake-up call because I tend to take so much for granted.

While there is no way for this book not to touch your heart, especially when you read about Ms. Garder Trulson's loss, I have to say that my overall reaction to this memoir was very positive.WHERE YOU LEFT ME was actually a heartwarming story about love, resilience, and second chances. This book not only shows readers how very special Ms. Gardner Trulson's relationship was with her husband - it really is a beautiful tribute to their love affair, but it also shows how she was able to find love and happiness again in light of such a devastating tragedy.

And there is no doubt that WHERE YOU LEFT ME is Ms. Gardner Trulson's story; however, this book represents so much more than that too. It demonstrates how so many family members had to cope with loss, change, and new beginnings. In addition, this book shows how the city of New York was left reeling from this tragedy and how its citizens were able to come together and support each other. And finally, I think WHERE YOU LEFT ME shows readers that no matter what horrific tragedy might happen in their lives, there is always room for hope and second chances.

WHERE YOU LEFT ME definitely touched my heart and I think many other women will have the same reaction. Because books like this one tend to really make me think about my life, I am recommending it as a book club read. There is a reading guide available which has quite a few topics for discussion. Some of the themes you might want to explore include love, loss, parenting, friendships, new beginnings, memories, and happiness.

I was deeply affected by WHERE YOU LEFT ME and I highly recommend it as a way to remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country. It is a beautiful story filled with love and hope and it's guaranteed to make you grateful for your life!

If you want to learn a little more about this story then check out this video:


Thanks to Engelman & Co. for sending me a review copy of this book.

13 comments:

iwriteinbooks said...

I just read a guest post by the writer and I loved it. Before that, the book wasn't on my radar. I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. It looks really well done.

Serena said...

This sounds like a heartbreaking book. I have a hard time reading these kinds of memoirs...I really do like learning about where people were when they heard, saw, learned about 9/11 though. I read an excellent fiction novel about 9/11...I think, yes it was, Saffron Dreams...http://www.shailaabdullah.com/books_SD.html

Beth F said...

Wow -- I had watery eyes just watching the video.

Karlie said...

Wow, this sounds really heavy and heartbreaking. I don't think that I could read this one.

bermudaonion said...

How do you go on after a tragedy like that? I know Trulson says she's an ordinary person, but I suspect she's stronger than I am.

lsl_scrapper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lsl_scrapper said...

Wonderful review! I'm really going to have to give this one some thought. It sounds well written, but I'm not sure I can make it through the book. It sounds more intense than maybe I want to do right around the anniversary.

Beth Hoffman said...

Excellent review, Julie!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Those 9/11 books totally rip me up! I'm usually crying by page 3 or so!

Mrs. Melissa said...

wow - sounds like a can't-put-it-down book! Now on my To-Read list!

Florinda said...

I'm so glad you liked this. My review's not posted yet, but I did too; I think your word "heartwarming" fits very well. Great review!

Booksnyc said...

I was in NYC during 9/11 and am still haunted by the sorrow that pervaded the city in the days and weeks following the attacks. Like you, I can hardly believe it has been 10 years already!

I saw the author on the Today show this morning and she is so articulate and spoke so thoughtfully about her husband and her life after his death. I would definitely like to read this book.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

A great review! Yes, where does she get the strength for her "new normal"?