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Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience

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A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thi A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night. When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come. As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation for this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again. This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It’s a tale of a husband’s turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places.


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A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thi A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave—a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident—had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night. When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come. As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation for this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again. This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It’s a tale of a husband’s turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places.

30 review for Beauty in the Broken Places: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Resilience

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    5 poignant and brave stars to Beauty in the Broken Places! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ I have been a fan of Allison Pataki’s books because she writes in my favorite genre, historical fiction. In Beauty in the Broken Places, she bares her extraordinary heart in a personal memoir. When she was five months pregnant, her young husband had a stroke while on a flight to their babymoon. Their lives were forever changed, but Allison easily found the silver lining and highlighted it in this book. During his recovery, Alli 5 poignant and brave stars to Beauty in the Broken Places! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ I have been a fan of Allison Pataki’s books because she writes in my favorite genre, historical fiction. In Beauty in the Broken Places, she bares her extraordinary heart in a personal memoir. When she was five months pregnant, her young husband had a stroke while on a flight to their babymoon. Their lives were forever changed, but Allison easily found the silver lining and highlighted it in this book. During his recovery, Allison wrote letters to her husband every day. She made an effort to include things that happened he would not remember on his own. The letters are at the heart of this memorable book. Bottom line, Beauty in the Broken Places is filled with stunning writing, heartbreakingly beautiful emotion, and abundant inspiration. Like Allison says, “May we always remember.” Thank you to Allison Pataki, Random House, and Netgalley for the ARC. Beauty in the Broke Places is available now! This and other reviews are available on my shiny new blog! www.jennifertarheelreader.com

  2. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    “When Dave woke up from a near fatal stroke, age thirty, beautiful, seemingly strong and outwardly intact, he couldn’t carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next.” I had enjoyed Pataki’s novel Where the Light Falls, so I was curious about her memoir concerning her husband’s stroke when she was five months pregnant. She spends a large portion of the beginning of the book bringing us up to date on how they arrived as this point. Their meeting, courtship, early marriage. Th “When Dave woke up from a near fatal stroke, age thirty, beautiful, seemingly strong and outwardly intact, he couldn’t carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next.” I had enjoyed Pataki’s novel Where the Light Falls, so I was curious about her memoir concerning her husband’s stroke when she was five months pregnant. She spends a large portion of the beginning of the book bringing us up to date on how they arrived as this point. Their meeting, courtship, early marriage. They didn’t have it easy, but she still gives it too much of a fairy tale tint to it. I get that these were two people very much in love. But this is the weakest part of the book. The back and forth is used to impress on the reader how everything changed in the (literally) blink of an eye. Most of us who marry will recite the traditional marriage vows. But most of us, like Alli, don’t expect the “in sickness” part to rear its ugly head until well into our later years. The scariest/saddest part of the book for me was when their dog did not recognize the altered, post stroke Dave. She gives us enough medical explanation, especially concerning executive functioning, so that we understand what they’re experiencing. There are some lovely passages on faith here and I found myself highlighting whole pages. This is an inspiring book that serves as a wonderful reminder to all of us that life cannot be taken for granted. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I look forward to sharing this book with you all. Thank you so much for reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Rating: 2.5 On June 9, 2015, historical novelist Allison Pataki—who was then five months pregnant—and her husband, Dr. David Levy, were en route to Hawaii. Dave was about to enter the fourth year of his orthopaedic surgery residency at Chicago’s Rush University, and he and his wife were taking a much-needed break to recharge. He had been driving himself hard for years—since first entering medical school, in fact—and typically put in 20-hour days. Recently, most of those days had been spent seated Rating: 2.5 On June 9, 2015, historical novelist Allison Pataki—who was then five months pregnant—and her husband, Dr. David Levy, were en route to Hawaii. Dave was about to enter the fourth year of his orthopaedic surgery residency at Chicago’s Rush University, and he and his wife were taking a much-needed break to recharge. He had been driving himself hard for years—since first entering medical school, in fact—and typically put in 20-hour days. Recently, most of those days had been spent seated at a desk engaged in an intensive independent study/research project. The sedentary nature of that work may have had some impact on his circulatory system and what was to occur on the plane that evening. Sometime around sunset, as the aircraft flew over the American midwest, Dave nudged his dozing wife awake, reporting that he couldn’t see out of his right eye. The pupil was significantly dilated and unresponsive to light. Airline staff were alerted, and medical personnel who happened to be aboard the plane attended Dave who quickly fell unconscious. A half hour was spent attempting to revive him before the plane made an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota. Transferred by ambulance to a nearby hospital, Dave was found to have suffered a devastating ischemic stroke, not the hemorrhagic kind that typically affects younger people, from which they can recover—though it’s an arduous process. A couple of anatomical variants in Dave’s heart and brain, in combination with his recent inactivity, meant that a blood clot in his leg which would normally have ended up in the lungs (which can be life-threatening in itself)) instead made its catastrophic way to his brain. It occluded the major blood vessel to the thalamus, the brain’s critical central sensory switchboard, which determines where incoming signals need to be routed. Not having received vital oxygen, the tissue there was now dead. Within 24 hours Dave did wake up in the Fargo hospital. He did not suffer the motor deficits or paralysis so commonly seen with stroke patients, but he was seriously cognitively impaired—suffering amnesia and losing executive function (the ability to plan and initiate actions). He was also extremely sleepy, and, because of cranial nerve damage, unable to move his eyes. Because this kind of insult to the thalamus is so rarely seen in cases of stroke (a 2016 paper in the Annals of Neuroscience suggests such damage occurs in only .6 % of ischemic strokes), there was limited medical literature on the subject—as Dave’s father, a neurologist, and his brother, Andy, a cardiologist, quickly learned. No one knew how Dave would fare long term. The fact that he had survived such a catastrophic cerebral vascular accident at all was attributed to his youth, fitness, and good diet. In recent years there has been a fair bit of talk about the plasticity of the brain, the ability of some areas to compensate for parts that have been irrevocably damaged. Pataki points out, however, that plasticity becomes more limited as a person ages. Dave was only 30 when his stroke occurred, still young enough for there to be hope that his brain might compensate for and adapt to the injury. Furthermore, in his pre-stroke life, he had been “very high-functioning with an above-average number of neurons firing to do his work as an orthopaedic surgeon,” “fit and strong” and “highly engaged in a rich and complex life, full of family and friends and activity.” Had his traumatic brain injury occurred a year or so later, his deficits would have been greater. If the stroke had occurred when Dave was 35, it is unlikely he would have survived at all. The chapters in Pataki’s book alternate between the past (the story of the couple’s relationship, which began when both were students at Yale) and the time of the stroke and its aftermath. The memoir also includes some lovely photographs as well as snippets of the laptop letters Pataki began composing to Dave from the beginning of his ordeal. These letters provided a way for the author to converse with the husband that used to be and also served as records of the passing days. For the most part, the excerpts included in the book are judiciously short (until the conclusion, where an arguably unnecessary final letter in its entirety is attached). Many of the details in the book underscore the fact that the author is a child of privilege. The daughter of a former governor of New York State, Pataki appears to have had every advantage in life. Unfulfilling and stressful work as a news writer in her twenties, for example, could be left behind for six months in Paris. Her aunt’s apartment in the French capital was conveniently vacant at the very point Pataki needed time to take stock of her life. When she returned to the U.S. and was no longer part of the TV news business, she got a job in her prominent father’s clean-energy company. She also appears to have had a large network of well-to-do, high-rolling friends who were able to fly to assist her in her time of need. As much as privilege helps a person negotiate life’s vicissitudes, however, it doesn’t ensure immunity to them. What I am saying here is that in spite of her immense privilege, Pataki’s distress can still be understood and related to. The thoughts and feelings she describes as she attempts to come to grips with her husband’s traumatic brain injury would likely be experienced by most of us were we to find ourselves in a similar situation. Pataki’s writing is not stellar; occasionally, it’s overwrought. Generally, though, it is serviceable, accessible, and obviously geared towards a younger, mainstream female audience. Pataki is aware enough to know she had lived a charmed life until the fateful June 9th, 2015 flight. She writes about an essentially sunny 11-year relationship with Dave; his marriage proposal—on bended knee, of course; the custom-designed ring he proffered; the four-leaf clovers the two found at the time of their engagement, and their large and elaborate wedding. Some women might enjoy reading about this kind of thing, but I’m not one of them. Additionally, terms like the repeatedly used “babymoon” (Pataki’s word for a romantic holiday taken when pregnant) appear in the book. Again: a word such as this might not bother some, but I felt annoyed every time I encountered it. I understand the author’s desire to mark the contrast between the apparently charmed “before” and the very difficult “after”, but the descriptions of the couple’s first decade unfortunately read like stereotypical scenes from chick lit. For me, the sections that relate to the stroke made for better reading. Emotions here are more complex, conflicted, and credibly articulated. Pataki is also able to movingly describe the many kindnesses that were extended to her and her husband in the course of their ordeal—sometimes by complete strangers. For instance, after the ambulance had delivered her husband to the Fargo hospital, an EMT lingered and passed her a wad of twenty-dollar bills, telling her simply: “We collect a fund for the family members . . . for moments like this.” Pataki describes the life she lived, including the progression of her pregnancy, as Dave recovered from his stroke—moving from the hospital in Fargo to Rush University Medical Center, and finally to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the top facility of its kind in the U. S.. Towards the end of Dave’s time in the rehab hospital, he and his family were told that he was expected to make a full recovery. For his wife, though, the greatest challenges were yet to come: when Dave was released from hospital. After spending several months living with and receiving the support of Dave’s parents, the couple went home to their new apartment. Not only did Pataki now have a newborn daughter, but she also had a “new, morphed, entirely unrecognizable version of the man . . . [she] had known and loved.” Having lost higher brain function, Dave no longer. had “the ability to be the self-starting manager of his own life”. Pataki was tasked with the dual roles of being wife and caregiver, and she tells of the serious toll this took on her. Beauty in the Broken Places is certainly not the best memoir I’ve ever read. However, it is still a powerful testament to love and, at times, an affecting record of endurance and adaptation to adversity. The reader cares about David Levy, roots for him, and appreciates the hardships his family members have faced, including the psychological adjustments that they, too, had to make. Humans have a fundamental need to turn experiences—particularly chaotic, terrifying, foundation-shaking ones—into stories. Pataki’s narrative of her husband’s life-changing stroke is apparently modelled after Hemingway’s famous, often cited observation: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places” which serves as the memoir’s epigraph. That quotation sounds profound and true, but I’m not sure that I believe it, nor am I persuaded that Pataki does. For one thing, the author’s propensity for panic has only increased since June, 2015. “I saw threats everywhere,” she writes of the time after the crisis. To illustrate: one evening as she and her husband set out on a walk (after Dave had been released from hospital), she became frenzied when he reported dizziness and faintness, thinking they must mean another stroke. They were, in fact, only physiological responses to the brightness and heat of a summer evening. Pataki’s later assessment of her situation as an unwanted lesson in endurance rings truer by far than any Hemingway quotation: “This stroke was foisted on my family. It’s not like we chose it and then decided whether or not we could deal with it. We have to deal with it because it’s our reality. And, if it was your reality, you would have to deal with it, too.” Allison Pataki is a person of some religious faith and there are occasional references to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, angels, miracles, and divine plans. Clearly, her religious beliefs assisted her, but I find that when I encounter the language of traditional Christianity—this particular brand of “faith”—I feel a mixture of amazement, incredulity, and mild distaste. I realize this is unfair of me. Obviously there are all kinds of ways to be in this world and if a traditional Christian belief system supports someone in coping with great hardship and pain, who am I to judge? In the end, I have mixed feelings about this book. I was interested (and even invested) in Dave’s story, but the writing itself isn’t memorable, and I didn't care for the domestic detail and the back story of the couple’s courtship. I think an editor should have advised the removal of significant chunks of that content. I believe it would have improved the book in the process.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Camille Maio

    Five stars to author Allison Pataki for opening up a window into the life of her family after a devastating and unexpected stroke befell her young husband. I know from experience that things we think we might have to face when we're older come as a great surprise when they happen many decades earlier. I was moved by her faith and the strength of her family, but also her honesty about the times she felt like giving up. A sure winner, Pataki's book will resonate with anyone who has struggled - tha Five stars to author Allison Pataki for opening up a window into the life of her family after a devastating and unexpected stroke befell her young husband. I know from experience that things we think we might have to face when we're older come as a great surprise when they happen many decades earlier. I was moved by her faith and the strength of her family, but also her honesty about the times she felt like giving up. A sure winner, Pataki's book will resonate with anyone who has struggled - that is, anyone who is human. I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lillian

    This was an emotional read. It is a memoir telling the heartbreaking story of recovery from a stroke. Dave Levy, a thirty year old orthopedic resident suffers a catostrophic brain injury. The author, Alison Patacki is pregnant and walks every step of the way with her husband through rehabilitation. Love and faith. Family and friends. Doctors and specialists. The letters Alison wrote through out the trying days of recovery show the strength and resilience of this love story. #beautyinthebrokenpla This was an emotional read. It is a memoir telling the heartbreaking story of recovery from a stroke. Dave Levy, a thirty year old orthopedic resident suffers a catostrophic brain injury. The author, Alison Patacki is pregnant and walks every step of the way with her husband through rehabilitation. Love and faith. Family and friends. Doctors and specialists. The letters Alison wrote through out the trying days of recovery show the strength and resilience of this love story. #beautyinthebrokenplaces #alisonpataki

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Allison Pataki and Dave Levy met while they were students at Yale University. They began dating and slowly realized that they each had met a soulmate. They married and began their lives together. Allison worked as a television news writer but hoped to eventually become a writer of historical fiction. Dave began medical school. In 2015, Allison and Dave found out that they were to become parents and decided to celebrate by going on a “babymoon” trip to Hawaii. While in flight, Dave turned to Alli Allison Pataki and Dave Levy met while they were students at Yale University. They began dating and slowly realized that they each had met a soulmate. They married and began their lives together. Allison worked as a television news writer but hoped to eventually become a writer of historical fiction. Dave began medical school. In 2015, Allison and Dave found out that they were to become parents and decided to celebrate by going on a “babymoon” trip to Hawaii. While in flight, Dave turned to Allison and asked, “Does my right eye look weird? I can’t see anything out of it.” Shortly after that he closed his eyes and was unconscious. In this beautifully written memoir, Allison describes how their lives, in a matter of minutes, were changed forever. It’s a powerfully moving story of family, love, perseverance, faith, and hope that is hard to put down. Thank you to Bookreporter, Random House, and author Allison Pataki for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this unforgettable book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    MY REVIEW OF “BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, FAITH AND RESILIENCE” Allison Pataki, Author of “Beauty in the Broken Places : A Memoir of Love, Faith and Resilience” has written an amazing, emotional, heart-wrenching ,captivating and thoughtful memoir. Can you imagine a thiry year old pregnant woman, and her thirty year old husband, (who is a third year medical resident), facing an unknow tragedy? The author and her husband were off on a “baby-moon” to enjoy a much-needed vacation, w MY REVIEW OF “BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, FAITH AND RESILIENCE” Allison Pataki, Author of “Beauty in the Broken Places : A Memoir of Love, Faith and Resilience” has written an amazing, emotional, heart-wrenching ,captivating and thoughtful memoir. Can you imagine a thiry year old pregnant woman, and her thirty year old husband, (who is a third year medical resident), facing an unknow tragedy? The author and her husband were off on a “baby-moon” to enjoy a much-needed vacation, when her young husband has a life threatening stroke on the airplane. The Airplane is forced to make an emergency landing, and Allison Pataki is faced life threatening challenges. The Author starts to write everything down, to keep it as something to show her husband if he survives. I admire the author’s honesty, courage, dignity, resourcefulness, compassion, and loyalty. When the author was struggling to cope she turned to loved ones for help, and she kept praying. Allison Pataki had hope and faith. I would recommend this beautiful written memoir to other readers. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review. Share

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lillian

    Allison "Alli" Pataki never imagined that her babymoon trip would result in a hospital trip. Her thirty-year-old husband, Dr David Levy suffered a stroke while en route trip to Hawaii. Beauty in the Broken Places is a product of the letters that she wrote to her husband during his treatment. Allison shifts back and forth in time referencing their relationship journey while holding the hope that the "old Dave" come back to her. Most people start these kinds of personal projects with the hope of he Allison "Alli" Pataki never imagined that her babymoon trip would result in a hospital trip. Her thirty-year-old husband, Dr David Levy suffered a stroke while en route trip to Hawaii. Beauty in the Broken Places is a product of the letters that she wrote to her husband during his treatment. Allison shifts back and forth in time referencing their relationship journey while holding the hope that the "old Dave" come back to her. Most people start these kinds of personal projects with the hope of helping others but end up experiencing catharsis and self-discovery. Allison's journey of maturing in her faith will be evident to her readers. Alli says that she had experienced luck although her life from her privileged youth to her stable relationship with Dave. However, Dave's stroke helped her recognise the difference between innocence and purity. While the former is circumstantial that is dependent on exposure or experience, purity is about an active choice that can only be attained through passing a test or trial. She recognises that prior to Dave's accident she possesses the faith of the innocent which was easy to keep. However, this new normal helped expose the weaknesses in her faith that she needed to re-examine and work through. As she says: "Ultimately, I realized, this was the moment when things between God and me finally got real. This was when I needed to live the faith that I had been thinking, for thirty-one years, that I had been living. I did not understand why the things that had happened had happened. But did I still—even in that place of not knowing or understanding, especially in that place of not knowing or understanding—believe that God was with me? Was He there beside me in my pain and brokenness, just as I had always believed Him to be beside me in my joy? Did I believe that God could take this heartbreak and this fear and this fatigue and somehow weave something beautiful from all of the frayed and feeble threads? That there was a divine plan at work here, a much larger picture than the one I could see, a framework that exceeded my capacity to understand?" Readers will fall in love with the couple and their journey of re-discovery and will make them yearn for intentionality in their relationships. If you loved the late Dr Paul Kalanathi's book When Breathe Becomes Air, then this book is right up your alley. Like Kalanithi, Allison has her way with words but without the more technical and philosophical tone that can be attributed to his medical training. Personally, I have never read any of her historical fiction novels which she wrote mostly during this trying period. Beauty in the Broken Places has piqued my interest in what else she has in store.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Foster

    Ernest Hemingway wrote that we are strong at the broken places, and Allison Pataki found that to be true when her husband, David Levy, a third-year orthopedic surgery resident in Chicago, had a near-fatal stroke at age 30. On June 9, 2015, Dave and five-months-pregnant Allison were on a flight from Chicago to Hawaii for their babymoon, planning to stop in Seattle to visit Dave’s brothers. But they never made it there. On the plane Dave told her he couldn’t see out of his right eye.The plane made Ernest Hemingway wrote that we are strong at the broken places, and Allison Pataki found that to be true when her husband, David Levy, a third-year orthopedic surgery resident in Chicago, had a near-fatal stroke at age 30. On June 9, 2015, Dave and five-months-pregnant Allison were on a flight from Chicago to Hawaii for their babymoon, planning to stop in Seattle to visit Dave’s brothers. But they never made it there. On the plane Dave told her he couldn’t see out of his right eye.The plane made an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota and Dave was rushed to a hospital for testing. Doctors found he had suffered a bithalamic midbrain ischemic stroke, even though he’d had no risk factors and this stroke type was virtually unknown in patients of his age. Pataki goes back and forth between the details of this health crisis and her past with Dave. Hers is a relatable story of surviving the worst life can throw at you and finding the beauty in it. See my full review at BookBrowse. (See also my article on stroke types.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Memoir of how author (Allison) and her husband (Dave) survived his stroke at age 30. Utilizing the letters and notes written during her husband Dave's recovery, the author of this beautiful memoir provided an intimate look at how she and Dave overcame his incapacitating stroke at age 30. Despite being a healthy, athletic doctor, Dave suffered a massive stroke while he and Allison were in a plane flying to their babymoon. Five months pregnant, what followed was Allison's account of their struggle Memoir of how author (Allison) and her husband (Dave) survived his stroke at age 30. Utilizing the letters and notes written during her husband Dave's recovery, the author of this beautiful memoir provided an intimate look at how she and Dave overcame his incapacitating stroke at age 30. Despite being a healthy, athletic doctor, Dave suffered a massive stroke while he and Allison were in a plane flying to their babymoon. Five months pregnant, what followed was Allison's account of their struggle to heal after being utterly broken. Was Dave able to participate in the birth of his first child? What was the recovery process like for him, and for Allison? How is he doing today? Find out in this breathtaking and inspirational look at surviving a tragedy with faith and resilience. "The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places." - Ernest Hemingway I would highly recommend this for anyone who loves someone suffering from debilitating health issues, and I look forward to reading more from this author! Thank you to the author and the publisher for an advance copy of this book! All opinions are my own. Location: New York City, New York and Chicago, Illinois

  12. 5 out of 5

    Meg - A Bookish Affair

    Many people take a marriage vow that says you will take care of each other in sickness and in health. Many people don't think that you are going to have make good on that promise early on in your marriage. As Allison and Dave find out in "Beauty in the Broken Places," this isn't always the case and sometimes life throws you curve balls that can seem insurmountable. Allison and Dave were on their babymoon when Dave was struck by a stroke that leaves him clinging to life. Allison almost loses the Many people take a marriage vow that says you will take care of each other in sickness and in health. Many people don't think that you are going to have make good on that promise early on in your marriage. As Allison and Dave find out in "Beauty in the Broken Places," this isn't always the case and sometimes life throws you curve balls that can seem insurmountable. Allison and Dave were on their babymoon when Dave was struck by a stroke that leaves him clinging to life. Allison almost loses the father of her child and her beloved husband. Together they will triumph and show that there truly can be beauty in the broken places. My husband and I are in our early thirties. We have two young kids. We have a happy life and we are totally guilty of thinking that we are invincible. It's easy to do that and to lose the idea that anything can happen and life can throw you those proverbial lemons even during the happiest times in your life. Alli and Dave are in their prime too and I think it was the similarities between us and our relationships that really pulled me into the book. Allison, up until this book, was best known for her historical fiction (which I have loved). This initially drew me to the book but I stayed for the great detail that Allison gave about all that Dave had to go through to recover and all that she had to do herself in order to get herself through his recover. The recovery from a stroke is truly amazing. I loved reading and was so inspired by both Dave and Allison in this book. I love books that showcase the triumph of the human spirit and this book certainly does that. If you want to be super inspired, this is the perfect pick!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    “Beauty in the Broken Places,” is author Allison Pataki’s moving account of having her life upended when her 30-year-old surgical-resident husband experiences a devastating stroke while she is pregnant with their daughter. Pataki uses two literary devices to tell the story. First, she alternates from past to present in each chapter, recounting how her relationship with her husband developed and relating the experiences she went through during his illness. Then, she incorporates excerpts from let “Beauty in the Broken Places,” is author Allison Pataki’s moving account of having her life upended when her 30-year-old surgical-resident husband experiences a devastating stroke while she is pregnant with their daughter. Pataki uses two literary devices to tell the story. First, she alternates from past to present in each chapter, recounting how her relationship with her husband developed and relating the experiences she went through during his illness. Then, she incorporates excerpts from letters she wrote her husband every day during his recovery, telling him what they were experiencing and the emotions she went through. Pataki explains, “I realized then that I had to write. I had to write in order to make sense of what had happened, what was still happening. I have always found that I can best make sense of the world and of intense or incomprehensible situations by writing.” Her comment reminded me of author Joan Didion, who said in the essay, “Why I Write,” “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” In fact, Pataki’s book shares some ground with Didion’s account of her husband’s last illness in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which also jumps back and forth in time relating how her relationship with her husband evolved. But, while Didion reports and analyzes her emotions and reactions to relate a complex inner life, Pataki reports more superficially on how she was feeling, offering deeper meaning through comments about her religious views and positive-thinking slogans like, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” While Pataki’s book seems earnest, honest, and even raw in many places, she keeps things at too much of a distance to offer a real exploration of the experiences she went through. Following her through a year where she goes through several life-changing events – her husband’s illness, her daughter’s birth, a move, a book launch, and even her father’s presidential campaign – I didn’t get the sense that she was transformed by her experiences. To her credit, she avoids exploiting her husband’s condition or invading anyone’s privacy (including her own). But, that left me wondering what her life was really like, since she never gives much of a glimpse. How did she manage to crank out her excellent historical novel “Sissi” – which clearly required extensive research – in a year when she was dealing with everything else? How did she and her husband re-establish their relationship, when so much had changed? What were her surroundings like? What did she learn? “Beauty in the Broken Places” is a well-written book, and readers will find it easy to sympathize with Pataki during this difficult and frightening chapter in her life. But, without giving a sense of the deeper insights and lessons she drew from her experience, it lacks depth.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kait

    I was given an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It's scary to think that every single person on this planet could suffer a traumatic brain injury that will irreparably alter their plans for the future. Most of us get lucky and never have to face this conundrum, but Allison and her husband Dave are not so fortunate. Dave suffers a terrible stroke deep in his brain and must re-learn how to be a person again and at the same time, Allison gives birth to t I was given an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It's scary to think that every single person on this planet could suffer a traumatic brain injury that will irreparably alter their plans for the future. Most of us get lucky and never have to face this conundrum, but Allison and her husband Dave are not so fortunate. Dave suffers a terrible stroke deep in his brain and must re-learn how to be a person again and at the same time, Allison gives birth to their first child while raising her husband from his own infancy. Pataki writes with so much emotion--I could feel her agonies, her frustrations, her joys. This book was an incredible work. Even though I am not religious, I honestly sat back and thought about Pataki's deep faith in God and what I would do in such a situation. I realized that I would pray to every deity out there. No sense in not stacking the deck in our favor. I love a book that makes me re-evaluate my own beliefs and goals in life. Pataki's Beauty in Broken Places did just that. Fantastic!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Marya Myers

    A beautiful look at the power of a relationship during a trying time. It reminds us all to believe in the strength of the human spirit. Thank you for sharing your story!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna Hines

    Beauty in the Broken Places is a powerful memoir about the power of love, the strength through adversity, and ultimately the will to survive. This powerful, moving, intricate and very delicate topic of the power of sickness and the movement to heal through love is brought to you by Allison Pataki after her young husband Dave finds himself unconscious after having a massive stroke. On their flight which was coined 'BabyMoon' having been 5 months pregnant Allison finds herself questioning why this h Beauty in the Broken Places is a powerful memoir about the power of love, the strength through adversity, and ultimately the will to survive. This powerful, moving, intricate and very delicate topic of the power of sickness and the movement to heal through love is brought to you by Allison Pataki after her young husband Dave finds himself unconscious after having a massive stroke. On their flight which was coined 'BabyMoon' having been 5 months pregnant Allison finds herself questioning why this happened to a very healthy individual who up to that point never questioned his appearances nor his right eye drooping. Yet, deep down they both knew they were in the fight for their lives. What would you do if faced with a life altering challenge that could possibly take your life and that of someone whom you love deeply? Would you find a way to correct the wrongs or would you become complacent and hope for change? This is the story of Allison in a way that forever alters everyone who reads it as it's filled with love, compassion, and truths. It's heartfelt, emotionally raw, and powerfully moving because in the face of their toughest battle they choose to go through it together. What makes this story truly unique is that Dave lost much of his cognitive abilities and couldn't remember his past much less carry on without a full time caretaker. This new challenging position was thrust upon Allison yet she would not falter in this tidal wave of emotions. Struggling to make ends meet while tending to a newborn and a husband she inadvertently found her reason for living and the rainbow at the end of this dark tunnel. Falling in love with her husband a second time wouldn't have been made possible without the power of 'words' taken to a journal while the memories where slowly fading away. Allison took pen to paper and wrote this memoir for a lasting legacy and tribute to the power of love , the strength through adversity, the faith in a higher power, and the resilience to continue moving forward. Beautiful! Thank you to Allison, her publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko for this e-read copy in exchange for this honest review. Though I just missed her call out online for this book to be reviewed I was lucky enough to snag this 'read now' copy and I'm so grateful I received it. A must read for 2018!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Cook - A Book Ninja

    What a beautiful story with so many wonderful bits of wisdom. While I was reading this book, I felt like I was sitting down with a friend talking. Pataki does a splendid job of laying out the story of Dave and her courtship and early years in marriage mixed with the heartbreaking yet beautiful story of Dave's recovery. Pataki does an amazing job balancing out the story of Dave's recovery. It would have been so easy for her as the wife and author to not look at his side of the story and only focu What a beautiful story with so many wonderful bits of wisdom. While I was reading this book, I felt like I was sitting down with a friend talking. Pataki does a splendid job of laying out the story of Dave and her courtship and early years in marriage mixed with the heartbreaking yet beautiful story of Dave's recovery. Pataki does an amazing job balancing out the story of Dave's recovery. It would have been so easy for her as the wife and author to not look at his side of the story and only focus on her feelings in the midst of this trial. I appreciate her inclusion of faith and her dependance on God during this time. Pataki's blunt statements on faith are so spot on that I wanted to weep in agreement. For someone that experience a traumatic unexpected loss of her dad the tender age of 25, I could not agree more. I had to decide that my faith had to mean the same when life was good and when life was hard and bitter. Pataki makes the statement throughout the book: "May we always remember". Just one of the many nuggets of wisdom in the book. I received an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carla Suto

    BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES by Allison Pataki is a beautifully-written and deeply moving memoir of how the author and her family coped with the aftermath of her 30-year-old husband Dave suffering a sudden and life-threatening stroke while they were on a plane heading to a much-needed vacation in Hawaii. Five months pregnant with their first child, she is suddenly faced with making life-changing decisions and with the uncertainty of the future for her husband and new family. With honesty and cour BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES by Allison Pataki is a beautifully-written and deeply moving memoir of how the author and her family coped with the aftermath of her 30-year-old husband Dave suffering a sudden and life-threatening stroke while they were on a plane heading to a much-needed vacation in Hawaii. Five months pregnant with their first child, she is suddenly faced with making life-changing decisions and with the uncertainty of the future for her husband and new family. With honesty and courage, Pataki opens her heart to her readers and reveals both her fears and her faith during this extremely difficult time. Both heart-wrenching and uplifting, this memoir reveals the devastating effects of traumatic brain injury and the challenging journey of recovery. BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN PLACES is an emotional and intimate tribute to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of faith and love in the face of an unexpected tragic event. I highly recommend this heartfelt memoir with its message of hope and gratitude for what we have.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    What an inspiring book!!! I was riveted reading about Allison and her husband, Dave. Five months pregnant, her husband suffered an extremely rare stroke on the plane on the way to their babymoon. What follows is their heart wrenching, yet full of hope story. I literally just couldn't put it down. I loved how it alternated between past and present, telling their story from the day they met up till today. Allison's faith was encouraging and heartwarming, and I pray that Dave continues to recover a What an inspiring book!!! I was riveted reading about Allison and her husband, Dave. Five months pregnant, her husband suffered an extremely rare stroke on the plane on the way to their babymoon. What follows is their heart wrenching, yet full of hope story. I literally just couldn't put it down. I loved how it alternated between past and present, telling their story from the day they met up till today. Allison's faith was encouraging and heartwarming, and I pray that Dave continues to recover and makes a full 100% recovery. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sharlene

    Allison Pataki's Beauty in the Broken Places is a memoir of love, faith and resilience. A beautifully written memoir of the strength of the human spirit and a loving relationship. 5 stars all the way. Put this one on your #TBR list. It will inspire you and move you to tears.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    It's a full 3.5 stars for the honesty and clarity. Allison writes to save her own spirit. It's something that in the very pits of the valley of grief, sorrow, terrible uncertainty for the future- it's a lifeline. Especially for a writer by career path, like Allison. She opens her heart in such an honest manner to the hurts, rejections, increased responsibility and numberless hours of work (and not only in the nurturing) that this terrible, terrible "bad thing" day twisted and imploded so much of It's a full 3.5 stars for the honesty and clarity. Allison writes to save her own spirit. It's something that in the very pits of the valley of grief, sorrow, terrible uncertainty for the future- it's a lifeline. Especially for a writer by career path, like Allison. She opens her heart in such an honest manner to the hurts, rejections, increased responsibility and numberless hours of work (and not only in the nurturing) that this terrible, terrible "bad thing" day twisted and imploded so much of her life and her life's plan. Some of us have also had that "holding an empty shoe" moment. That's just how it feels. She truly can conceptualize what she feels to a 5 star. This is an excellent book for those who have had accident, stroke, some such event occur in their family core. Allison is quite an example and role model for having the bottom fall out of a world. Quickly and without any personal "controls". I didn't care for the switching pattern of telling it between their former years and then the "after" being flip flopped. But I rounded it down primarily for the fact that it's fairly short and at points tells you more about her own support systems than it does about the "how" progressions to his retraining brain networks. I would have relished more scientific information re his retraining patterns or far more of the process work handled when they were living in Northbrook with her in laws. It's a crux that is obscured here in its form. I've very glad I read this book. I sure wish that all the people who have needed it for so many brain injury situations had half this level /type of massive support systems for the lodging and treatments. Allison has this too and not only in the families of closest relationships by blood, but in the friends/ doctors- and the closeness of access to the top tier hospitals and training units for exactly what needed to be done in the "after".

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Incredible. Imagine a young couple, looking forward to the birth of their first child, flying west to enjoy a “baby moon”, when inexplicably the husband passes out on the airplane, thousands of feet in the air. The story of this journey opens with, “Is there a doctor on board?” From there, the journey becomes one full of anxious unknowns and small joys. Allison Pataki pens this loving tribute to the man who holds her heart for all time. She does so openly and poignantly, sharing her shock, fears Incredible. Imagine a young couple, looking forward to the birth of their first child, flying west to enjoy a “baby moon”, when inexplicably the husband passes out on the airplane, thousands of feet in the air. The story of this journey opens with, “Is there a doctor on board?” From there, the journey becomes one full of anxious unknowns and small joys. Allison Pataki pens this loving tribute to the man who holds her heart for all time. She does so openly and poignantly, sharing her shock, fears, anxiety, confusion, and incredible sadness. Writing is more than a career for Allison Pataki, but a way of expression and catharsis. Throughout the book, Allison shares from the journal she kept while her husband was so very sick; a place she went on a daily basis. Such a great love is shared by this couple it is inspiring.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Memoirs are not a preferred genre, but I almost finished this in one night!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elise Hooper

    Pataki's memoir serves as a poignant reminder of what's really important in life. Her retelling of what happened with her husband's stroke and recovery manages to sparkle with humor, though she doesn't sugarcoat the descriptions of her dark moments of coping with trauma and grief. I admire the honesty and insight she brought to this story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kayla shaft

    A memoir is not usually my go-to pick off the shelf, but then again I would read a grocery list if Allison Pataki had written it. While reading through Beauty in The Broken Places for the first time, it didn’t quite feel like an autobiography, and i often found myself reflecting off of the emotions on the page, never before has a book made my palms sweat and my eyes well with tears. How could it be possible for someone to make it through such traumatizing and life-altering events as David and Al A memoir is not usually my go-to pick off the shelf, but then again I would read a grocery list if Allison Pataki had written it. While reading through Beauty in The Broken Places for the first time, it didn’t quite feel like an autobiography, and i often found myself reflecting off of the emotions on the page, never before has a book made my palms sweat and my eyes well with tears. How could it be possible for someone to make it through such traumatizing and life-altering events as David and Allison did? When it came to me after the first read through that this was in fact real story, I had to go through it again. This book completely changed my perception of understanding such strong feelings of love and devotion, concepts I struggle to assimilate, and I’d like to think the cynical side of myself was substantially diminished by the time I had realized how emotional and uplifting the words of this author were. I have so much admiration for both Allison and her husband respectively, for sharing and inspiring others with their very real and very personal story, without a sugar coating. Beauty in The Broken places is an eye-opening testament to the belief that with faith, love and courage, the human spirit is capable of weathering any storm that comes our way.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Mary

    This is an incredible story of gut, heart and overcoming unbelievable obstacles. Allison and her husband's grueling journey through his extremely rare stroke will leave you in awe. Such a great read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rochelle Weinstein

    I read this book in one three-hour sitting. I'm speechless. Allison Pataki is a brilliant and gifted writer. This story, though heartbreaking, was beautiful, inspiring, and left me with so much to think about. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kassandra

    Thank You Random House and Netgalley for providing an advanced e-book copy for me to review. All opinions are my own. Allison wrote daily letters to her husband after he suffered a massive stroke. While incredibly thankful that he was alive, she was grieving for the man she once knew. With her faith and daily letters, she learned to fall in love with her husband all over again. Wow, this is an incredible memoir! I cried on more than one occasion and I can’t even imagine how difficult this must h Thank You Random House and Netgalley for providing an advanced e-book copy for me to review. All opinions are my own. Allison wrote daily letters to her husband after he suffered a massive stroke. While incredibly thankful that he was alive, she was grieving for the man she once knew. With her faith and daily letters, she learned to fall in love with her husband all over again. Wow, this is an incredible memoir! I cried on more than one occasion and I can’t even imagine how difficult this must have been for Allison. Her faith was tested in her darkest moments, but the hope is what got her through. This story just reminds us that no matter what our current situation is, there’s always something to be grateful for.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan Schuler

    Sad, sweet and engrossing. As a fan of Pataki's historical fiction, I was curious about her memoir. This work did not disappoint. Reads like a novel but full if her family's all too real struggle.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    Beauty in the Broken Places is the beautifully written memoir (and love letter) by Allison Pataki detailing the unexpected stroke her husband, Dave Levy, experienced while on a flight from Chicago to Seattle. The love that Allison and Dave have for each other is evident in the words written on these pages. That love carried them through not only years of medical school and surgical residency but the devastating medical event that occurred on their way to a much-needed vacation (“babymoon”) when Beauty in the Broken Places is the beautifully written memoir (and love letter) by Allison Pataki detailing the unexpected stroke her husband, Dave Levy, experienced while on a flight from Chicago to Seattle. The love that Allison and Dave have for each other is evident in the words written on these pages. That love carried them through not only years of medical school and surgical residency but the devastating medical event that occurred on their way to a much-needed vacation (“babymoon”) when Allison was five months pregnant. Beauty in the Broken Places is an inspiring story of love, the power of faith and always remembering how lucky you are. I highly recommend this memoir just make sure you have tissues handy! I received an advanced copy of this book; all opinions are my own.

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