Verdict: The prose is fast and seamless; the story is dramatic and tight. For the right reader, this book could be exhilarating.
A lot of books suffer from a lack of tension, an inability to establish the sense that something important is truly at stake. That is not a problem with this title.
In 37 SECONDS, the author Stephanie Arnold shares her account of the visions she experienced during her pregnancy, visions that showed she would die giving birth. Her resulting consultations with a number of doctors ultimately saved her life.
37 SECONDS is only tension, only anxiety. From the first visions of her own death and the wrenching scenes of her child’s birth to her husband’s stress, the book is unremittingly serious. The tone is always grave and a little nervous, if not altogether panicked. And in Arnold’s defense, she was completely right to be. She had graphic visions of her own death, and then actually flat lined for half a minute. That’s scary stuff.
But what is worrisome is that the book uses Arnold’s diagnosis–a rare Amniotic Fluid Embolism–to encourage other people to be anxious too. “It wasn’t about me,” she writes, when explaining why she started to tell her story. “It was about helping others understand that if they sensed something, they should say something because speaking up could save their life.” In short, Arnold encourages readers to listen to their intuition and then to speak up to make sure they’re heard.
Ultimately, 37 SECONDS could have been improved if the authors gave readers just a second to breathe. A story should always leave a little room for levity, or at least take a small break from pure angst and drama. To Arnold and Padorr’s credit, the writing is otherwise very good. The prose is fast and seamless; the story is dramatic and tight. For the right reader, this book could be exhilarating. But for those who are already prone to paranoia or anxiety, who check WebMD daily and worry they might have cancer, this might not be the right book for them.
~Collin Segura for IndieReader