Saul

Rosemary Kay, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (310p) ISBN 978-0-312-25333-2
The eponymous narrator of Kay's heart-felt debut novel is only 1 lb., 4 oz., when he is born at 23 weeks, a stage of prematurity few survive. A fictional memoir based on the author's own experiences with her son, the novel offers a baby's-eye view of life and the struggle for it in a British neonatal intensive care unit. As Saul describes the events of his four-month hospital stay, his family and the hospital staff share a roller-coaster of false hopes of progress and devastating setbacks. But Saul is determined to learn something from his painful experiences and equally determined to impart that knowledge to others as he discovers the motivational usefulness of anger and the healing power of forgiveness. Because the story is rendered through Saul's consciousness, the reader must accept that he's a sentient human being who can think in language at once primitively infantile and precociously mature. Charting an infant's will to survive in counterpoint to the background conversation of medical personnel pursuing the daily routine of neonatal care, Kay captures the sensual wonder of eyes and ears that are new to life, and the fear and distress as well. In registering his parents' feelings through the buffering filter of Saul's perceptions, she renders their anguish even more affecting. Some may find the story of a newborn's brief existence disconcertingly sentimental. But this imaginative account--published in Britain as nonfiction--should expand the sympathetic capacities of those who can accept the book's premise and the redemption implicit in its tragic close. (Feb.) FYI: British playwright Kay includes the address of a London-based charity researching prematurity and problem pregnancies.
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4668-8555-4
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