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Today, I’m delighted to share a review of my poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap, from friend and fellow author Carrie Hooper. Carrie lives in Elmira, New York, where she teaches music and foreign languages, occasionally performs, and writes poetry of her own.
As she says in her review, we met in 2005 through Newsreel, an audio magazine where the blind and visually impaired can share ideas, music, and more. I had the pleasure of reading her poems and reviewing a couple of her books here after she joined Behind Our Eyes, a writers’ organization to which I belong. Now, here’s Carrie.
A Caregiver’s Gift: A Unique Book of Poetry
by Carrie Hooper
I recently read Abbie Johnson Taylor’s book, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, published by iUniverse Inc. in 2011. I met Abbie in 2005 through Newsreel, a magazine produced by and for the blind. She and I are members of Behind Our Eyes, a writers group for people with disabilities. I have had the pleasure of reading several of her essays, stories, and poems on the group’s email list, and I also read her book, That’s Life. I always love to read her work, and How to Build A Better Mousetrap, a collection of sixty-eight poems, was no exception.
The book consists of four sections. In Part 1, “On Being A Family Caregiver,” Abbie reflects on caring for her husband, Bill, who suffered two strokes which paralyzed his left side. Abbie’s use of the future tense when describing the events surrounding Bill’s first stroke, give the opening poem a potency it would have lacked had Abbie simply related the story in the present tense. She seems to sense the impending tragedy. I felt Abbie’s frustration as she struggled to dress and feed Bill, and I could relate to her computer problems. I chuckled at her humorous account of a romantic moment, interrupted by nature’s call. Abbie’s love for Bill permeates the poems in this section. She rises above despair and completes all tasks without complaint.
Part 2, “Recollections,” offers scenes from Abbie’s childhood and adulthood: a family picnic, a road trip with her father, unforgettable audio at a writers’ conference, etc. The poem, “Junior High,” reminded me of my middle school days. I could hear the humming of the buses, the bells, and the slamming lockers.
Part 3, “Reflections,” covers a variety of topics: a trip to Florida to escape Wyoming’s winter, a spring stroll, favorite foods, a driving mishap, and much more. I especially liked the poem, “I Admire My Handiwork,” in which Abbie contrasts a poem shaped like a Christmas tree with her attempt in fifth grade to make a Christmas tree with soda can lids on felt. Part 4, “Aging,” treats the challenges of aging and requiring care. I found the poems in this section poignant, especially “Reta’s Song” and “I Remember.”
I would recommend Abbie’s book even to those who don’t normally read poetry. Her poems are easy to understand. They are verbal snapshots which engage the senses and touch the heart.
Thank you, Carrie, for such a wonderful review of my book. Reviews are important to authors because they boost sales. If you’ve read any of my books, please leave a review where you bought the book and/or on GoodReads. Alternatively, you can use the contact form to email me your review, and I’ll be glad to post it here and on my website. Thank you for reading.
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Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.
Independently published with the help of DLD Books.
Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.
After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.
Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.
Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?