Life sometimes throws a curve ball.

In some instances, you are forced to grow up before it's time. Dani Shapiro experiences both during one fateful year. At 23, she doesn't recognize herself anymore. She has become the mistress of a wealthy businessman who treats her to indulgences at spas and expensive shops. She has also fallen victim to the world of drugs in order to escape from a pain rooted in her Orthodox Jewish upbringing.

Then, the call comes. Her parents have been in a terrible accident on the snowy roads near her family home. Both are hospitalized, and Shapiro has no time to waste. As she treks through an emotional journey into the past, she discovers that she has lost control of her life. Upon arrival at the hospital, Shapiro sees her mother in white bandages, a full body cast, legs in traction with 80 fractures in her body; she stares in fear at what her mother has become. She finds her father in a coma from which, doctors say, he may never emerge. A miracle occurs, however, and he does come out of the coma only to die weeks later.

The fact that Shapiro lost the road map to her life becomes clear after her father's death. As she looks through drawers containing her past receipts, letters from her agent, a photo of herself she wonders what went wrong.

She considers what her life is now: unopened bills, undeposited residual checks, angry letters from her married lover, tiny jars of cocaine and an expired credit card she uses to chop up it up. Peppered with Jewish words, the reader sees Shapiro slipping back to the world in which she grew up. As her mother stays in the hospital and begins to recover, Shapiro, too, opts to get her life in order. She attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, though still in denial about her problem. While she tells herself she can quit, Shapiro hears her father's voice louder in death than it was in life. She knows she cannot look back. In her all of her pain, Shapiro teaches the reader to re-center and go ahead. Success, love, and life's goodness will come with hard work and self-transformation and usually after tragedy has struck on every level. Shapiro, who has written three novels, may have written her best book yet with Slow Motion, an honest and compelling story of life's thread being sewn back together.

Suzi Parker is a freelance writer in Little Rock, Arkansas.

comments powered by Disqus