Monday, June 04, 2012

Non-Fiction: Falling for Eli by Nancy Shulins

Nancy Shulins’ fantastic personal journey is made all the more powerful by her fierce talent. The twice Pulitzer Prize-contending journalist knows how to tell a story; knows how to bring us along.

“Letting go of a dream is a process,” she tells us early in Falling for Eli (Da Capo Lifelong), “a series of openings and closings of the hand, as you watch the magic dust you’ve been cradling so carefully trickle away in thin streams.”

The word “cradle” in this context is, no doubt, a conscious one. In Falling for Eli, we watch Shulins come to terms with the fact that she’ll never have the baby she always longed for. What surprises her, as well as all of those around her, is when the heartbreak she feels at the loss of something she never even had is eased from an unexpected place: when she decides to fulfill a life-long dream by learning to ride a horse. The riding leads her  to her own horse, a chestnut gelding named Eli, and we participate in the complex relationship that builds between the two.

Like the very best memoirs, Falling for Eli is a wonderful story, but it is also so much more. We are made, in a way, to think about motherhood and how the definitions around it have changed and continue to change. In other ways, it is a story of redemption and even triumph of spirit, as Shulins moves from depression at the realization that she will never give birth to a child, through her transformation as she works through a difficult period of relationship building with her new horse, to triumph as she enjoys a satisfying -- if complication -- relationship with her 1200 pound “baby.”

I can’t imagine the once horse-mad girl who won’t enjoy Falling for Eli. A paperback original, it will nonetheless be one of my top picks of the year. ◊

India Wilson is a writer and artist.



Post a Comment

<< Home