The Life You Longed For: A Novel Paperback – 11 Mar 2008
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"The fear of losing a child is horrifying. The fear of knowing people think you hurt that child is annihilating. In The Life You Longed For, Maribeth Fischer probes the netherworld of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy in an affecting, startling story. This may be the novel you longed for."
-- Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Cage of Stars
"Maribeth Fischer is as much a scientist as she is a poet: in her heartbreaking exploration of motherhood and the way tragedy can grow out of everyday choices, she analyzes and deduces, layers and uncovers, to teach us things we never knew about the science of love, the biology of betrayal, and the epidemiology of loss."
-- Carolyn Parkhurst, author of Lost and Found
"A fiery and modern-day version of the witch hunt, The Life You Longed For is the story of how a mother can be accused of the worst offense by any doctor, friend, or neighbor. But this is no dark tale, The Life You Longed For is beautifully written and filled with characters who are fallible, utterly human, and completely compelling. It is a novel brimming with joy, heartbreak, and the power of love."
-- Colleen Curran, author of Whores on the Hill
"Grace is as vigilant, astonishing, and brave as she is exhausted and imperfect. Simply put, she is a mother. In intimate and achingly lyrical language, Maribeth Fischer tackles the question: How do we love in the face of inevitable loss? The answer she gives us is: Fiercely, completely."
-- Marisa De Los Santos, author of Love Walked In
"The Life You Longed For moves swiftly and painfully through so many levels of grief, anger, and fright -- but it never loses sight of the power and majesty of love. This book should be required reading for every single person who makes a living in the medical profession, and everyone who has ever longed for the duties and rewards of parenthood."
-- Robert Bausch, author of A Hole in the Earth and The Gypsy Man
"The Life You Longed For pulled me from beginning to end without pause. Maribeth Fischer's beautiful, clear, descriptive writing engages all the senses while immersing the reader in mystery."
-- Sheri Reynolds, author of Firefly Cloak and The Rapture of Canaan
Grace's son, Jack, is a miracle; a three year old, fighting a mysterious and deadly disease doctors predicted would kill him as a baby. The family's world is upended when a friend of the family lets it slip: there has been an investigation. Grace has been accused of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy, the strange psychological disorder whereby seemingly good mothers purposely fake or exacerbate their child's illnesses to get attention. As a result, Grace begins to suspect every doctor and nurse that has ever taken care of Jack, every friend and acquaintance, even her husband. Who has accused her, and why? The Life You Longed For is gripping, suspenseful, and the definition of a page-turner - readers will want to skip to the end to figure out if the accusations are true. By mixing this controversial topic with endearing characters and a delicately layered plot, Maribeth Fischer has established herself as a voice to be reckoned with among today's finest women writers.See all Product description
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There is a kind of diabolical cleverness in the plot, in which the mother of a terminally ill child, a woman who is struggling to keep the child alive in a world that sees his death as a foregone conclusion is suddenly accused of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP), that is, of making the child sicker as a means of getting attention. The accusation forces her to question everything: her own motivations, her relationships, and her perception of reality. MSBP is the perfect tool to pry the truth of things out of the plot because the observable symptoms of it are all the same observable traits of a devoted and caring mother. The facts don't much matter when the conclusion is known. One could carry the comparison with Job too far but his friends did spend most of the book spinning out potential reasons for his plight: all of them wrong.
Ms. Fischer's writing is especially effective because it is full of highly detailed images and metaphors so the reader is submerged in a concrete world where everything can be visualized and felt. Just as is the case with MSBP, the details are very important but they are not enough. Just what is enough - well, you'll need to read the book to find that out.
There's enough meat in this book to keep a book club busy. The fundamental questions about love and personal motivations and the presence of evil in the world will keep resonating long after the book is closed.