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More than just a memoir, this is an intense, focused insight into the dying process, addiction, love of pets and family, identity, and so much more. having Gehl Caldwell read it in her mild Texas twang, modulated by years of living in Cambridge, is an added bonus.
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Living life takes a kind of courage. Gail Caldwell’s memoir, "New Life", is a glimpse of her courage. Challenged by early life polio, Caldwell fashions a universal story. Most children learn how to walk before they are two. Caldwell took a little longer, but her experience resonates with every person’s success in mastering a new skill. All feel a sense of being a captain of their soul and master of events when they learn to walk or stand alone.
Courage is most clearly evidenced in Caldwell’s memoir when she advances into middle age. Unlike being late to walk, Caldwell is early to immobility at 61. Through chance, Caldwell is seen by a doctor who properly diagnoses premature hip damage. (Previous doctors failed to x-ray Caldwell’s hip.) The damage can be corrected with a surgically implanted titanium hip-joint. Caldwell chooses to have the operation. That choice means six months of excruciating rehabilitation.
One can draw different conclusions from Caldwell’s memoir. Every life has its challenges. No life is offered a list of instructions; either at birth, adolescence, maturity, or death. Every person has chances and choices. It takes a kind of courage to make choices. Caldwell’s choice is to never give up.
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