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by Maribeth Fischer

Grace's son Jack is a miracle. At three years old, he's fighting a mysterious, deadly disease that his doctors predicted would kill him as a baby. Even though it was determined to be mitochondrial disease, the little-known illness remains a mystery to medicine. Grace has sat by his bedside every minute he has been in the hospital, questioned every diagnosis, every medicine - even poring over medical journals and books at home late into the night. To the world, Grace's fierce dedication is the sole reason for her son's survival. But someone suspects that perhaps Jack's disease is not what it seems.When an allegation of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is leveled against Grace, she begins to live in constant suspicion of everyone - from the doctors and nurses surrounding her son in the hospital to her own husband. Who could possibly think that she has been purposely making her son ill to gain attention for herself?Although her husband believes their life is exactly as it seems to the outside world, Grace knows differently. She is harboring a secret - the adulterous affair she's having with her first love. But perhaps her biggest betrayal of all is her shameful uncertainty about whether she's chosen the right path, the right husband, the right life.
Download The Life You Longed For: A Novel epub
ISBN: 0743293282
ISBN13: 978-0743293280
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Genre Fiction
Author: Maribeth Fischer
Language: English
Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Edition edition (March 6, 2007)
Pages: 336 pages
ePUB size: 1448 kb
FB2 size: 1463 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 266
Other Formats: mbr lit lrf rtf

Clearly, the author's friends and/or her personal book club have posted all the wonderful reviews about this book. She is also extremely selective about what she includes in the book vis-a-vis the outside reviews from Booklist, etc.--they are "damning with faint praise" at best. The author's comparison of the reality of Munchausen by proxy maltreatment to the Salem witch hunts literally nauseated me--I have seen videotapes of MBP mothers suffocating and otherwise sickening their children, so there is simply NO DOUBT that this treacherous form of child abuse exists in startling numbers. On the other hand, experts are divided about whether mitochondrial illnesses exist and, if they do, whether they affect more than a very, very small number of people. The author, who is not as talented as she thinks she is, has done an immense disservice to the field of child protection. She should be ashamed.
Rarely does a book keep me reading until the wee hours of the morning. The Life You Longed For: A Novel, was such a book. As a scientist, I could relate to how much this mother was relentless in finding answers that other scientists (doctors) couldn't and doing everything possible to help her child (hopefully any mother would, scientist or not). The book stirred up lots of emotions for me...I realize Child Protective Services needs to take accusations seriously, and in the book they investigated her for about a year, initially without her knowing. I don't know what else they could have done differently. But you really feel for the mother as she struggles with the accusation and tries to figure out how to portray herself so that she doesn't come off as "guilty as implied". I totally understood the correlation to the Salem Witch Trials having read an earlier book on that subject. It was a very sad story, and yes the mother made mistakes. But overall it was an interesting story, with excellent writing.
Reviewed by Carol Janc - The best experience in life is to bear a child, know a child, love a child. Perfect innocence. Unless that child carries the dark secret of an incurable disease. Then life is terrifyingly shattered; a family knows the experience of being keel hauled despite overwhelming devotion and love. That is the family MARIBETH FISCHER casts a spotlight on in THE LIFE YOU LONGED FOR. Based on medical facts, and a painfully believable family, this book is so close to the bone, so true, so enlightening about the lives of those involved with the serious and deadly illnesses of children. It is a must read for moms and dads, as well as medical professionals. THE LIFE YOU LONGED FOR will touch your heart and your head, hopefully forever.
A few years back I read and taught The Language of Good-bye, Fischer's first novel, in the MFA in Writing Program where I teach. The students (and I) were impressed with Fischer's beautiful style and ability to juggle plots lines and viewpoints, particularly because her two main characters came from such different cultures. TLOGB is a book I've read more than once and truly enjoyed, so naturally I looked forward to her next book, which was a while in coming. But SO worth the wait. There is nothing uneven about this book, so pay no attention to the Kirkus review. Having finished The Life You Longed For just moments ago, I felt compelled to write this review. It is an astonishing book. This is the best kind of story there is--involving, complex, raw in places, a peek into a world that could slip right by. The characters are imperfect and human and so real it gives you the shivers. The amount of scientific information, the weaving of 9/11, the denoument, wow. Another reviewer said it would make a great movie, and while that's true, I am satisfied that it is a book because I know I will read it again and again. TLYLF belongs on the New York Times bestseller's list. I plan to buy copies for my reader/writer friends and spread the word. Just a tremendous read. I hope Fischer has another book in the hopper so I can read more of her stories soon. Loved it.
The reviewers who have called this book an "exploration" are right on target. I was a little disappointed to see the number of jacket blurbs from authors who are women because I thought it may have suggested that this is a woman's book, and it is no more necessarily a woman's book than Job is necessarily a man's book. Both books feature a central character whose life is animated by unconditional love and devotion; in both cases the character ends up in trouble for that very reason; and, in both cases much of the book is consumed in an effort to discover what it all means.

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.