Phosphorescence: A Memoir of Finding Joy When Your World Goes Dark

Random. Jul. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780593236918. $27. MEMOIR
In this work, journalist and biographer Baird (Victoria: The Queen) explores topics like awe, wonder, friendship in dark times, and finding one’s purpose in life as a means to shine bright. Baird has gone through some difficult experiences in her multiple battles with cancer, which she notes is impossible to fathom without having gone through it. Her writing on her experiences with cancer is truly heartbreaking. She touches on these experiences only briefly, although the beginning of the book indicates that it deals with her life’s dark periods as an overarching motif. As a result, it can be difficult to see where the writing leads to; Baird discusses instead the activism of her youth, letters to her son and daughter, and her time living in places around the world. This, paired with her beginning section on awe, wonder, and silence, which seemed more scientifically centered, does not synthesize into a unified book. It would be better described as a collection of vignettes about Baird’s life and thoughts.
VERDICT There are sections that are reminiscent of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and sections similar to Amy Silverstein’s My Glory Was I Had Such Friends, but the book lacks cohesiveness and is a convoluted read overall.
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