cover image Shadow Child: An Apprenticeship in Love and Loss

Shadow Child: An Apprenticeship in Love and Loss

Beth Powning, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0720-1

""My sons lived at different times in the same womb, and their lives spiral around one another, as flexed and fluid as the self-embracing curl of an embryo."" In finely wrought prose, Powning (Home: Chronicle of a North Country Life) looks back on the birth of Tate, her first child, who was stillborn nearly 25 years ago. Although she had a second son, Jacob, she never forgave herself for a fall while cross-country skiing during the last weeks of her pregnancy with Tate, and never truly mourned him. This is not, however, an ordinary therapeutic memoir. Powning focuses her considerable writing ability on probing the life she has built with her husband, Peter, whom she married when she was only 19. In their early 20s, the two emigrated to Canada and bought a farm that has challenged and strengthened them. Although they have a solid marriage, Powning has at times envied Peter's dedication to his successful pottery business and resented her role as his assistant. Over the years, she has struggled to find her own creative voice (after one particularly galling rejection from a publisher, she gave up writing for years). After Jacob was born, both she and Peter were consumed by the joys of parenthood; the author later home-schooled Jacob for two years. When persistent dizziness and recurring nightmares prompted Powning to see a therapist, she began unraveling the grief she still carried for Tate. Anyone who has experienced the loss of a child will relate to Powning's painful and healing search for meaning in his death. Agent, Aaron Milrad. (Feb.)