A micro-preemie fights for survival in this extraordinary and gorgeously told memoir by her parents, both award-winning journalists.
Juniper French was born four months early, at 23 weeks’ gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her twiggy body was the length of a Barbie doll. Her head was smaller than a tennis ball, her skin was nearly translucent, and through her chest you could see her flickering heart. Babies like Juniper, born at the edge of viability, trigger the question: Which is the greater act of love — to save her, or to let her go?
Kelley and Thomas French chose to fight for Juniper’s life, and this is their incredible tale. In one exquisite memoir, the authors explore the border between what is possible and what is right. They marvel at the science that conceived and sustained their daughter and the love that made the difference. They probe the bond between a mother and a baby, between a husband and a wife. They trace the journey of their family from its fragile beginning to the miraculous survival of their now thriving daughter.
An Amazon Best Book of September 2016: I admit, I wept twice upon reading this memoir: once at the very beginning (yes, on page three) and once at the end. I challenge you not to grow teary-eyed over this true story of a couple who gave birth to a micro-preemie—a child born at twenty-three weeks with a body so fragile that on the day of her birth, the nurse has to caution the dad not to rub Juniper’s skin or her skin might fall off. But while Juniper’s skin might be delicate, when she’s given the opportunity, she tightly grips her father’s pinkie with her tiny hand. Alternating chapters told from the mother’s and father’s views (both Kelley and Tom French are journalists, and it shows in the clear, evocative writing) display the constant battle between Juniper’s will to live and her frail body’s determination to give up. But against very long odds—her doctor tells Kelley that there’s an 80 percent chance Juniper will die or be significantly disabled—Juniper prevails and even thrives. One of the NICU nurses advises the parents, “There’s a book out called Raising the Strong-Willed Child. You might want to pick one up.” After six months in the NICU while her father reads aloud almost all seven books of the Harry Potter series, Juniper finally comes home. This story of resilience and love will curl around your heart, reminding you that even the darkest moments can lead to light. And to some happy tears. —Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review
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