Again in a Heartbeat
by Susan G. Weidener

CreateSpace, 2010. ISBN 978-1-451-58118-8.
Reviewed by Marion Mitchell
Posted on 01/04/2011

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Relationships

High drama fills the pages of Susan Weidener's memoir of "love, loss, and dating again." This memoir tells a love story as tender as young girl's dream, filled with passion and tenderness. In fewer than 170 pages Weidener draws upon her writing expertise as a journalist to craft multi-sensory language that lifts the reader into the drama of the story.

Love begins like a dream come true in a grove of white dogwood trees when a tall, strikingly handsome West Point officer's dark eyes lock onto Susan's and she cannot look away. Deeply in love, Susan and John date, marry, and ultimately have two sons.

But just as a young girl's dream becomes tempered by reality, John and Susan's seemingly idyllic lives are also tempered. One reality is John's mother, Louise. Despite her son's happiness, Louise abuses the couple, verbally and physically. In one outburst, Louise yells, "Stay with your whore. You're no son of mine...You're a loser!" She then lunges at Susan with a saber.

Another reality: During Susan's pregnancy with their second child, John is diagnosed with colon cancer. When he tells Susan the grim news, she becomes furious. "This can't be happening now. This isn't fair...Where is the joy in having a new baby...?" In bed that night, Susan feels ashamed of her anger, which she admits is directed inappropriately at John. She cannot face him. Instead, she rolls over and turns her back to him. From that moment forward, John refers to cancer as "the enemy" because "it divides your house."

John fights "the enemy" for about eight years. During those years, the love he and Susan share is tested. Through surgeries, treatments, and illness along with the ever-present need to earn income, keep house, and raise their sons, coping is intensely difficult. After John's death in 1995, Susan chronicles her grief, including her attempts at dating and finding happiness as a widow with two young children.

With an uncensored pen, Weidener portrays the day-to-day dilemmas presented to her in the face of boundless love and true adversity. She exposes the reader to her experience of love in its many dimensions: strength and frailty, bravery and bravado, vulnerability and trust, beauty and pain, selfishness and generosity, loyalty and indifference, heartbreak and regret. Most of all, she portrays love's enormous risk—one that Susan says she would take "Again in a Heartbeat."

Read an excerpt from this book.

Susan Weidener was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania. She received her BA in Literature from American University and her MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1991 and worked as a reporter in the Inquirer's suburban bureau until 2007. An experienced book editor and facilitator of writing workshops, she founded the Women's Writing Circle. She lives in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. Visit the Women's Writing Circle blog.

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