This memoir by Joan Saltzman recounts her marriage, in her forties, to a man whose kidney disease was progressing to a point of choice between dialysis or transplant.  The first half of the book is a lively account of their somewhat stormy courtship, layered with memories of her childhood and reflections on tensions with and loss of her parents.  The second half focuses largely on the difficult decision to donate one of her own kidneys to her husband.  Even undergoing tests to determine she was a match required some wrestling with fear and resistance.  The chronicle continues through bumpy recoveries to a new level of intimacy and understanding of ongoing shared life in new terms.  Her idea of "complete recovery" had to be modified once she recognized that even a successful transplant doesn't restore a former state of health, but does restore a new range of possibilities.


This very candid story of a courtship, marriage, and mutual involvement in a major health crisis deromanticizes all three.  The narrative is sharply self-disclosing in its inclusion of the uncertainties, the irritations, the fears, the anger involved in the levels of self-giving required of the speaker in the midst of a very functional single life.  For that reason, it also gives full weight and credibility to the breakthroughs into new kinds of love, release, and understanding that come with the necessary sacrifices of loving someone who is ill.  It has much to offer those in similar situations who find themselves caught in the ambiguities.


Peripety Press

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