Review: Early Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Early DazeEarly Daze by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Early Daze reads much like a memoir although from Roberts’ explanation (found included on the Amazon.com purchase page for the book) it isn’t meant to be. Although partially based on personal experience, this is not Roberts’ story of her daughter premature birth but an attempt to share the most important aspects of her experiences in order to bring light to what is ordinarily a rarely discussed topic.
They say that easy writing makes for hard reading, and hard writing makes for easy reading. This book, short though it may be, reads with incredible ease which tells me the book came from a place of hard writing, of divesting the soul of every easy and every difficult, uncomfortable, emotionally painful moment that comes with delivering a child into the world prematurely.
I connected right away with the main character, Jess. While my son (now in his pre-teens) came into this world somewhat late (it must be in my genetic makeup because no one in my family ever shows up on time for anything), I related to a lot of Jess’s emotional turmoil, particularly over breast feeding. The emotions attached to this natural act are complex even if you are able to breast feed. I was not; my son was either just that lazy that he wasn’t interested in having to work at getting mom’s milk or I wasn’t producing enough or I couldn’t get the hang of getting him to latch on, so like Jess I ended up having to pump around the clock until, also like our main character, I eventually chose to stop altogether and resorted to formula.
Jess’s emotional turmoil is resounding and Roberts’ portrayal of her plight brought me right back in memory to my son’s early days. And when I say it brought me back what I really mean is that Roberts’ writing seemed to reach deep into my mental archives to bring those experiences directly for the forefront of my brain. I relived the first few months of my son’s life while simultaneously reading about Jess’s and couldn’t help but relate to almost everything she went through.
I also enjoyed Jess’s development progression over the course of the story. Events of this magnitude and importance can and do usually serve to broaden our horizons and help us realize where we’ve been and how much we must change in order to prepare for what lies down the road of life. Coming from a sheltered life in a small village, Jess is confronted with realities she never expected the early birth of her child to show her. Roberts’ secondary characters play an excellent role in aiding Jess on a variety of levels, helping her to cope with her new situation as well as providing her with a growing awareness of her faults and where she can improve and move beyond the unintentional narrow-mindedness her sheltered existence has given her.
This was a wonderful read – elucidating and engaging, full of characters easily identified with, perfect for mothers of all kinds. What praise Roberts’ has earned for her writing style and candid sharing of personal experiences (even if they were tweaked to give us amazing fiction) is well deserved and hard earned. I give Early Daze the highest rating possible.

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